Scots’ hopes wither and die against rampant Red Roses
England’s women swept to Grand Slam glory at Twickenham on Saturday, with Scotland rarely troubling them at any stage of their point-a-minute victory.
With a squad composed almost entirely of full-time professionals, the Red Roses displayed a fairly relaxed style throughout, even though they dominated from the start.
Nevertheless, the four Borders players in the Scottish squad were far from anonymous in their contribution.
Ex-Hawick High School duo, Lana Skeldon and captain Lisa Thomson, with Jedburgh’s own Chloe Rollie, took up their familiar positions from the start as hooker, centre and fullback respectively.
Former Selkirk High pupil Mhairi Grieve began on the bench, after Jenny Maxwell was promoted ahead of her at scrum half.
The Scots ladies were very encouraged by their performance the previous week against Wales, losing out with the very last kick of the game.
But England’s quality radiuated through from the early stages and they were already a try to the good before Thomson robbed Zoe Harrison of the ball and tried to set up a fourth-minute advance in four minutes.
Thomson had an effort blocked soon afterwards but Chloe Rollie flicked and kicked the ball away out of danger, after a try-saving tackle from Rachel McLachlan.
Further good defensive work by Rollie helped slow another attack by England, while the ex-Melrose ladies player was downed herself by England hooker Vicky Fleetwood.
Rollie made another fine tackle on Jess Breach, while Thomson was showing plenty of determination to drive forward against a well-organised English side.
But the Scottish skipper was yellow-carded in the 38th minute for a deliberate knock on and England finished the half 45-0 ahead.
Typically tough tackling by Lana Skeldon resulted in repeated nose injuries, while Rollie unfortunately knocked on after a missed kick just before Thomson returned.
Mhairi Grieve replaced Maxwell on 50 minutes but another converted try straight away put England 59-0 up.
England were warned by Irish referee Joy Neville for collapsing mauls and repeatedly failing to move away after tackles.
Rollie made a superb tackle on Emily Scarratt to force the England player back after she sold an excellent dummy.
Katy Daly-McLean, who converted nine of England’s 12 tries, was sin-binned in 73 minutes for continuing the earlier failures to move away following a ruck.
There was concern when Lana Skeldon collapsed with three minutes remaining but she was able to walk off the field after treatment.
After the game – and before the announcement that ladies’ coach Shade Munro would be moving on to a new role – Lisa Thomson told Sky TV it had been a “tough match”.
“We knew coming down to Twickenham was going going to be a hard shift for us but credit to England – they brought it to us,” she added.
“We never really fronted up from the first minute, but credit to them for the win.”
Lisa said Scotland needed to develop at a quicker rate than everyone else if they were to live with the likes of England, France and New Zealand in the women’s game.
But the side had come on “a massive amount” in the last four years, she said.