Scotland 36 Japan 12: Rachel Malcolm hails 'clinical' second half in front of Edinburgh crowd
It was the first time the Scots had played in front of home fans since November 2019 and a crowd of 2,346 were at the DAM Health Stadium to watch an exciting Test match.
And after her side scored six tries to win 36-12, back-row Malcolm said: “We weren’t happy at half-time because, although we showed glimpses of what we could do, we weren’t good enough in the first 40 minutes.
“After the break we were more clinical, our attack sharpened up and defensively we were strong.
“This keeps the momentum up that we built up with two wins at the European World Cup qualifiers in September and now we will work hard ahead of the next challenge.”
That next challenge is the final World Cup qualifying event in early 2022 and Scotland took the lead here in the 12th minute through a well-worked try.
The ball was shipped right and centre Hannah Smith put winger Rhona Lloyd, later named player of the match, in for the score at the corner. Stand-off Helen Nelson could not convert.
Eight minutes later there was a flashpoint when a pass from Nelson to Lloyd saw the latter tackled high by Japan second-row Yuna Sato.
Referee Nikki O’Donnell looked at the incident with her TMO and they came to the conclusion that Sato’s arm had connected with Lloyd’s head and she was red carded.
In the 22nd minute try number two for Scotland arrived from a powerful lineout drive, hooker Lana Skeldon the scorer. Nelson missed the conversion and it was 10-0.
Fair play to Japan, despite having only 14 players they were not going to play second fiddle and, indeed, it was them who scored next.
Hooker Nijiho Nagata went over from short range in the 34th minute. Ai Hirayama, the full-back, missed the conversion.
Back-row Seina Saito should have added the visitors second try when she burst through the defence, but Lloyd and back-row Rachel McLachlan somehow got back and held her up in the act of scoring.
However, their second score did come on the stroke of half-time when tighthead prop Sachiko Kato powered over with Hirayama converting to give them a 12-10 advantage.
The Scots needed to get off to a good start in the second half - and they did.
They worked through a number of phases before full-back Chloe Rollie’s looping pass was picked up on the bounce by winger Megan Gaffney who went over for a try. Nelson converted and it was 17-12.
That was in the 44th minute and when Rollie herself scored three minutes later, converted by Nelson, Scotland were suddenly 24-12 up.
Scotland then killed the game off in the 63rd minute when centre Lisa Thomson ran a great line to go in for try number five with Nelson converting.
That breathing space allowed head coach Bryan Easson to give debuts to front-row Anne Young and winger Shona Campbell off the bench.
And, into the last 10 minutes, a lovely kick through by replacement Sarah Law and some neat footwork from Lloyd saw the latter bag the hosts sixth try. Law could not convert, but Scotland had won comfortably.
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