Scotland show signs of progress despite France ending winning run

Kelly Arbey – Scotland show signs of progress despite France ending winning run
Kelly Arbey finished brilliantly in the corner for France - Getty Images/Andy Buchanan

Scotland 5-15 France

Bryan Easson insisted his Scotland team were “going places” after pushing France close in round two of the Women’s Six Nations.

A quick comparison with last year’s fixture certainly shows they are heading in the right direction, even if this defeat brought their seven-match winning run to an end. Scotland were humbled 55-0 in France in 2023 but were within seconds of securing a losing bonus point in Edinburgh. Only Emeline Gros’ 81st-minute try denied them that.

“It was really encouraging in so many ways,” said Scotland coach Easson. “Defensively we put our bodies on the line and our lineout defence was outstanding. We pressurised them all the way. It’s hard because we deserved a bonus point out of that.

“We’re genuinely disappointed by that against the third best team in the world. We are a team going places.”

The hosts’ defence was superb throughout the match, with France unable to get across the line until Kelly Arbey scored in the 53rd minute. That was the first time the French backs properly clicked, with Gabrielle Vernier, Nassira Konde and Emilie Boulard combining to create space for winger Arbey to go over in the corner.

France are embracing a quick offloading game, looking to exploit opponents by moving the ball wide, but too often against Scotland they forced those passes and moves broke down. Sometimes the simple option can be more effective.

Scotland proved that in the first half. Not only did their defence limit France to a Lina Queyroi penalty, but their driving maul delivered a try for Elis Martin that gave them a 5-3 lead at the break.

The French dominated territory in the second 40 and eventually that blue line of defence was breached, allowing the visitors to make it two wins from two in the championship.

Lisa Thomson will rue the 30-second spell where she missed touch from a penalty and then knocked on the return kick, which resulted in a huge territory swing. Helen Nelson’s two missed kicks at goal ultimately proved costly too.

Still, after following up a first win in Wales for 20 years with this relatively narrow defeat, Scotland will take confidence into their next match against England in a fortnight. Easson said: “We talk about relentlessness and heart, working for each other. We have England here with a sellout crowd and we know we’ll put in another performance that makes us all proud.”

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