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Scotland secure historic victory against Wales in round one of the Women's Six Nations

Scotland's Lana Skeldon reacts on a panelty during the New Zealand 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Wales and Scotland at Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on October 9, 2022. (Photo by Michael Bradley / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images)

Scotland secured the 20-18 victory against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park to get their 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations underway after a tight contest in the Welsh capital.

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It was Scotland’s first win away to Wales in 20 years for the women’s team and their seventh victory in a row.

Scotland’s Coreen Grant scored the only try of the first half for either side before she was joined on the scoresheet by teammate Rhona Lloyd 42 minutes later.

Sisilia Tuipulotu crossed for the first try for the home side in the 58th minute, before Alex Callender scored their second to take them within two points of Scotland. A missed conversion cost them the draw in the dying minutes despite an impressive comeback for the hosts.

Wales started on the front foot, earning themselves a penalty for their attacking efforts, which was duly converted by Keira Bevan to put the home side ahead in the opening five minutes.

Fixture
Womens Six Nations
Wales Women's
18 - 20
Full-time
Scotland Women's
All Stats and Data

The hosts’ lead didn’t remain for long however, as Scotland swiftly replied with a score from an electric break down the wing from Grant after a well-worked lineout provided them the foundations for the score, which was converted by Loughborough Lightning’s Helen Nelson to give them the upper hand on the scoresheet.

With Lana Skeldon on hand to stabilise the ball on the tee in the windy conditions in Cardiff, Nelson then added a penalty to Scotland’s tally to make the score 3-10 after 15 minutes.

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Grant went flying on the wing again, combining speed with stunning footwork to rattle the Welsh defence, leaving debutante Jenny Hesketh in the dust before GB Sevens star Jasmine Joyce put in an important tackle to stall the solo Scottish attacker.

The barrage of attack continued, but Bethan Lewis came up trumps to secure a key turnover and provide a moment to reset for Wales.

A few wayward lineouts from the visitors saw Bryan Easson’s side squander further attacking opportunities, but the scoreline remained 3-10 in their favour with half an hour played.

As the final ten minutes of the first half approached, Callender piled on the pressure at multiple breakdowns as Wales began to come into their own, the open-side flanker at the heart of their resurgence before the break.

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However, despite the best efforts of the Welsh team, Scotland responded to the threat to deny Ioan Cunningham’s team their closest try-scoring attempt of the match at that point to give themselves a scrum on five metres.

Wales remained camped out in the Scotland 22 for around ten minutes but were unable to convert field position into points until Bevan added a second penalty to bookend the half, which sent the teams into the break 6-10.

Half-time replacement Georgia Evans got stuck in at the start of the second half to contribute to the winning of an early turnover for Wales to give them a boost to start the last 40 minutes, but an overcooked kick from Lleucu George soon put the ball back into Scottish hands.

Eight minutes into the half Emma Orr and Lloyd linked up superbly to inject pace into the Scottish attack from a turnover, with the latter crossing for Scotland’s second try of the match, converted again from the touchline by Nelson to give them an 11-point lead.

A fantastic kick from Lisa Thompson then won the 50-22 for Easson’s side, but possession was returned to the hosts as Alisha Butchers successfully led the battle to win the turnover.

WXV 2 winners Scotland had their defence tested as Wales made their way back into the 22, and the visitors were warned for playing the nine at the breakdown. Tuipulotu then did the damage after continuous attacking phases to provide a well-deserved first Welsh try of the match as she drove over with a pick and go after the penalty which she had taken herself.

Prolific try-scorer Skeldon went down injured in the 61st minute which momentarily paused the match as she received treatment. The hooker managed to walk off the pitch, much to the relief of spectators and players alike, and was replaced by Elis Martin.

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Scotland rallied from the injury loss to pile on the pressure with relentless attack, but Wales were equally relentless in preventing the third try.

Despite denying Scotland the try, Wales were then penalised for previously throwing the player across the lineout, which gave the visitors another chance to attack after playing with the advantage.

Scotland worked through the phases again as the Welsh defence stood firm, but Sarah Bonar was the next player to go down injured to deplete the Scottish ranks as she left the field with just over ten minutes remaining.

A Welsh knock-on gave Scotland another opportunity to attack just inside the 22, once again testing the home side’s defence, eventually winning the side in blue the scrum penalty from which they opted to go for the points.

Vice-captain Nelson stepped up to take the kick with six minutes left on the clock, and was once again perfect from the tee as she extended the Scottish lead, the visitors now beginning to look to the historic win.

The victory however hung in the balance as George kicked Wales into the 22 with four and half minutes, searching for a score-levelling seven points.

The red shirts earned themselves a penalty as Scotland strayed offside, and a powerful maul moved them to within metres. Playing with the advantage, George sent the ball skyward with Joyce lurking on the wing, but she was covered by Chloe Rollie. Wales went back for a penalty, which sent Scotland’s Alex Stewart to the bin with a yellow card for entering the ruck at the side.

With a player up, Wales had the lineout five metres out in search of their second try, and looked to make it across the line amidst the chaos. Referee Clara Munarini called on the TMO to check for a double movement, but Callender had done enough to score the important try without infringing on the law.

Gloucester-Hartpury’s George lined up the kick for the match-levelling points, but the ball sailed just wide to provide Scotland with a final lifeline, which would see them survive the last few seconds to attain the victory after the nerve-wracking dying minutes.

It was heartbreak for Wales at the final whistle and elation for Scotland, but additionally, an important wider moment in the sport as competitiveness continues to grow ever stronger as women’s teams move further into their journeys with professionalism.

Scotland go on to face France at home on 30th March, while Wales will regroup to travel across the bridge to Ashton Gate where they’ll meet hosts England on the same day.

Elsewhere in the competition, France had a successful start by securing a 38-17 victory over a much-improved Ireland team.

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