Lleucu George’s late kick heartache for Wales hands Scotland Six Nations win | Women’s Six Nations

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Scotland carved out pieces of rugby history as they defeated Wales away from home in the Women’s Six Nations for the first time since 2004. In a dominant display they took back the bragging rights in the rivalry and it has been a long time coming, with Scotland last beating Wales in the competition in 2021.

A late missed conversion from Wales’ back-up kicker, Lleucu George – which would have levelled the scores – handed them the win. Not only did this mean a slice of Women’s Six Nations history but the victory was Scotland’s seventh in succession across all competitions. They have never won that many consecutive games before.

On a sunny and windy Saturday afternoon in Cardiff, many would have been expecting Wales to start their campaign with a win. Even Scotland’s captain, Rachel Malcolm, had tipped her opponents as favourites in the buildup. In the early stages it seemed they were living up to the tag as prop Sisilia Tuipulotu carried well and her scintillating form drew the Scottish defence to give away a breakdown penalty.

Scrum-half Keira Bevan, the player to break Scottish hearts with a last-minute penalty at the Rugby World Cup two years ago, was on kicking duties and scored the first points. The first blood may have been drawn by Wales but Scotland were quick to throw a punch of their own. The visitors executed a perfect lineout and put a training move into action. Fast hands saw the ball find the wing and player of the match, Coreen Grant, her lightning feet beat several defenders to score. The try built a momentum platform and Wales started to cough up penalties. Scotland initially tried to add to their try tally but with the attack misfiring Helen Nelson put boot to ball to extend their lead.

Scotland had the upper hand but started to become their own worst enemies with the lineout failing and handling errors halting try opportunities. The tide began to turn in Wales’ favour with a scrum penalty, followed up by good work from Alex Callender at the breakdown and it gave Wales their most promising attacking position. Scotland smothered every strike from the Welsh pincer but not completely cleanly. Leah Bartlett was off her feet and so a Bevan penalty kick bookended a tight half with Scotland holding a 10-6 lead at the break.

The next score felt crucial and after the break, Scotland created a beautiful passage of play. Emma Orr ran a line to cut out multiple Welsh defenders and offloaded to Rhona Lloyd. Lloyd, who is involved with the 15s set-up again after a spell with Great Britain sevens, had a lot of work to do but hurdled her way to the line.

Wales’ Lleucu George is tackled by Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm – it would not be the last uncomfortable moment of the evening for the Wales fly-half. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Scotland could not build on the momentum as they started to give away a multitude of penalties. Wales kept peppering the Scottish defensive line and eventually Tuipulotu found the target to put Wales within a score. Scotland were dealt more blows with hooker Lana Skeldon and lock Sarah Bonar going down with injury. Both are key to the Scotland squad and fans will have to nervously wait to see if they recover in time to face France on Saturday.

In the final quarter, momentum continued to swing back and forth and despite the game hanging in the balance Scotland kicked to the corner instead of to the posts. The first time of asking they didn’t cross the whitewash but they won another penalty and pointed to the corner once again. Another penalty was given away by the hosts and Scotland’s head coach, Bryan Easson, was shown saying “posts, posts, posts” in his mic to his touchline colleagues. The team duly obliged and Nelson landed the kick.

The penalty silenced the crowd for a moment before they came roaring to life as Wales set off on the attack. They set up a rolling maul which was brought down illegally and Alex Stewart was sent to the sin bin.

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Once again, a wall of noise surrounded the action as the maul was launched once more. It did not charge over the line but Callender stretched an arm out after a few phases to score. The try closed the gap to two points and with Bevan off the pitch, the conversion fell to fly-half George. She lined it up, took her time and swung a boot, but the flags stayed down to give Scotland a famous victory.

The result could be crucial come the end of the tournament. France and England have both qualified for next year’s Rugby World Cup and so the next-best finisher will qualify. Wales are targeting another third-place finish but Scotland’s win has put a cat among the pigeons.

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