Scotland's Francesca McGhie races home. Craig Watson/INPHO
Sad Day

Ireland fade in second half and fall to first wooden spoon since 2004

Greg McWilliams’ side will compete in the third tier of the WXVs competition after Scotland pulled away from them in Edinburgh.

Scotland 36

Ireland 10

Lewis Stuart reports from DAM Health Stadium

FOR MORE THAN an hour, Ireland gave as good as they got in this Six Nations basement battle but they just did not have the experience nor the stamina to stop the home side easing clear in the final quarter.

There were plenty of signs of positives against Scotland to be built upon but too much white-line fever when Ireland were in the ascendency meant they never got the reward for their effort. Then, they ran out of steam when the crunch came on, and Scotland added gloss to their superiority.

To be fair, it was not hard to see why these two teams are in the bottom end of the Six Nations table. They both had their fluid and stylish moments but they were usually undone by simple mistakes.

Ireland were first on the scoreboard when out-half Dannah O’Brien kicked an early penalty only a couple of minutes into the game.

After that, they had most of the pressure and most of the territory in the first half with Deirbhile Nic a Bháird, Brittany Hogan, Nicola Fryday and Linda Djougang carrying strongly in the forwards while Aoife Dalton led the way behind the pack. However, whenever they got a hint of an opening, something went wrong.

Their best chance of the first half came just before the break when they got a lineout five metres out and went for the obligatory maul only to knock on inches from the line.

The penalty was not long coming when Scotland broke up to the other end of the field. They made exactly the same position work for them, with centre Melanie Smith crashing over to give the home side a narrow lead.

An action replay at the start of the second half doubled the hosts’ advantage with Lana Skeldon, the Scottish hooker, on the end of it
— but that only seemed to rouse the visitors who promptly found their best rugby of the match.

Ireland charged into the Scotland 22′, winning a string of penalties. This time, when they got to the corner, they made the Scots pay. An initial Irish maul was held but skipper Fryday came off the back of it to smash her way over in midfield. With O’Brien landing the conversion, the scores were level again.

It didn’t last. Scotland regained the ball from the kick-off, Smith cut cleanly through and though brave green defence stopped her short, prop Leah Bartlett was there to make the final inches. Helen Nelson added the extras to restore the seven-point advantage.

There was even less Ireland could do about the next score as Scotland wing Francesca McGhie produced a solo try for the highlight reel, getting the ball on the 10-metre line, cutting outside the first line of defence and wrong-footing the rest to score under the posts with Nelson converting.

That opened the floodgates and Scotland skipper Rachael Malcolm and full-back Chloe Rollie both crossed in the final minutes to put the game to bed.

Ireland, who suffered their first wooden spoon since 2004, will compete in Tier 3 of the upcoming WXVs competition after what transpired to be another miserable day for Greg McWilliams’ inexperienced side.

Scorers for Scotland: Tries: Meryl Smith, Lana Skeldon, Leah Bartlett, Francesca McGhie, Rachel Malcolm, Chloe Rollie. Cons: Helen Nelson [3 from 6]

Ireland: Try: Nichola Fryday. Con: Dannah O’Brien [1 from 1]. Pen: Dannah O’Brien [1 from 1].

Scotland: Chloe Rollie; Coreen Grant, Emma Orr, Meryl Smith (Beth Blacklock, 76), Francesca McGhie (Liz Musgrove, 76); Helen Nelson, Mairi McDonald (Caity Mattinson, 55); Leah Bartlett (Anne Young, 76), Lana Skeldon (Jodie Rettie, ), Christine Belisle (Elliann Clarke 76), Jade Konkel-Roberts, Louise McMillan (Eva Donaldson, 71), Rachel Malcolm (C), Rach7el McLachlan (Eilidh Sinclair, 71), Evie Gallagher.

Ireland: Lauren Delany; Aoife Doyle (Méabh Deely, 69), Aoife Dalton, Vicky Irwin (Anna McGann, 51), Natasja Behan; Dannah O’Brien, Molly Scuffil-McCab (Ailsa Hughes, 58); Linda Djougang (Clara Nielson, 76), Neve Jones (Kathryn Buggy, 76), Christy Haney (Sadhbh McGrath, 69), Nichola Fryday, Sam Monaghan, Brittany Hogan (Hannah O’Connor, 64), Grace Moore (Dorothy Wall, 15), Deirbhile Nic a Bháird.

Referee: Sarah Cox (England)

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