Warren Abrahams hailed the ‘great fight’ shown by his Wales side in Glasgow as they pushed Scotland all the way in a thrilling finale to the 2021 Women’s Six Nations.
Tries from Megan Gaffney, Megan Kennedy, Christine Belisle and Evie Gallagher ensured Scotland clinched fifth place in this year’s Championship with a 27-20 victory at Scotstoun.
But following defeats to France and Ireland in their two Pool B games, Wales were much improved as they crossed twice themselves through Lisa Neumann and Caitlin Lewis.
And Abrahams said he was proud of his players for the way they kept going until the final whistle after Lewis’ late try – which was converted by Robyn Wilkins – saw Wales finish on a high.
“Firstly I’m really proud of them, we asked for a performance – that was the key thing – and you’ve seen some really good stuff there, they showed great fight,” he said.
“That finish there at the end was an outstanding finish, bearing in mind where we are, where we were in the game at that stage, the way they finished I’m really pleased with.
“You’ve seen glimpses of the way we want to play in the first half, early on in that first period with 19 phases there so there’s some really great stuff we can take away from this.
“For all of us, if we want to compete at this level you’ve got to sort your set-piece out and we’ve learned some tough lessons there today but it’s always a tough, competitive fixture.”
The 2021 Championship was Wales’ first under their new head coach since his arrival at the end of last year and Abrahams said he has learnt a lot about his team from his first three games in charge.
“It was a tough start [to the Women’s Six Nations] but I think the most important thing for myself and the coaching team is we’ve learned some incredible lessons,” he said.
“We’ve got some great confirmation where we are as a group and what we need to do and again if we want to compete at this level, we need to iron out some of the detail.
“We’ll continue to critically review ourselves but we can take a lot of positives from this performance to continue building as we look ahead.
“There was a great lesson from a set-piece perspective. If you want to play the way we want to play, we’ve got to find a solution to those problems that presented themselves.
“We tidied them up and you can see within the unstructured part of the game where our strengths lie but as we know with this game, if you don’t get go forward from the set-piece you won’t get the freedom to play.
“It’s always about what we can do, the pressure is the pressure we put on ourselves and you’ve seen how they’ve come out this week, there is an incredible belief in this group.
“We need to take that going forward because we could have seen a completely different team here based on the last two performances but the team wants to fight for each other.
“They have a lot of belief and played with passion and pride. Regardless of the scoreboard, there’s some incredible stuff we can take away from here.”
Hannah Jones captained her country for the first time in the absence of Siwan Lillicrap and the stand-in skipper echoed Abrahams in praising her teammates for the fight they showed.
“I’m proud of the girls for the effort and the performance they put in,“ she said. “There’s little bits in there, with a bit more consistency we could have come away with a win.
“Fair play to Scotland, they gave us a competitive match and just came away with it at the end. We’ve worked on that [defence] in training and the girls stepped up this weekend.
“We parked that [the previous games], we did our performance analysis and everything and the focus was this weekend so I’m proud of the girls and happy with the performance.
“We take the little good things that we put out there. We’ll reflect on this now and consistency in our platform, work on our platform, and we should be able to play more exciting rugby.
“Energy is one of the things we want to bring to the game.”