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Scotland survive late Spanish attack to secure RWC Qualifier win

Rachel Malcolm

Scotland survived a late attack from Spain to secure a 27-22 win and keep their hopes alive in the Rugby World Cup European Qualification Tournament.

A week earlier, Scotland were outclassed 38-13 by Women’s Six Nations rivals Italy but they managed to come through their topsy-turvy affair with Spain – who defeated Ireland last time out – to take their first qualifier win.

It was Spain who got off to the perfect start, putting Scotland under immense pressure early as they won a scrum deep in the opposition half from the opening kick-off.

And moments later, they had their first try of the day courtesy of centre Paula Requena Zamora who scythed her way through the Scottish midfield to score with Patricia Garcia Rodriguez adding the extras.

However, Scotland hit back on 20 minutes through winger Rhona Lloyd, who collected Hannah Smith’s looping ball to cross the whitewash.

While Helen Nelson’s conversion slipped wide, Scotland scored their second try straight from the restart when Lisa Thomson collected the ball in full flow to set Megan Gaffney away down the sideline.

The winger, who was running at full speed, blazed her way past countless opponents before stepping the final Spanish defender to give Scotland the lead.

And this time Nelson made no mistake with the conversion, giving them a 12-7 advantage, although the game soon turned again on 25 minutes, when Spain’s rolling maul saw them go over through Margarita Rodriguez, with Garcia Rodriguez adding the extras.

And then five minutes later, Spain had their third try of the afternoon courtesy of winger Maria Garcia Gala, who collected a nice inside ball from close range to make it 19-12 at the 30-minute mark.

But Scotland would not give up and crossed over for their third right on the stroke of half-time through Nelson after some relentless pressure to narrow the deficit to 19-17.

Although Scotland took the lead after the break thanks to a Nelson penalty, Spain responded in kind immediately through Garcia Rodriguez to make it 22-20.

A back-and-forth second half ensued with both sides eager to find a way to take control of the contest.

On 63 minutes, Scotland found their breakthrough when openside flanker Rachel McLachlan went over on the back of an impressive rolling maul, with Nelson’s conversion giving them a 27-22 lead with just over 15 minutes left.

With minutes remaining, Scotland found their themselves under an attack from the Spanish armada, just looking to survive the onslaught.

And they managed to go one better, securing a turnover that all but ended proceedings to give them an impressive, and crucial, win.