Scotland 8 England 5
SCOTLAND, the most improved of the home international sides in women's rugby over the last two years, will go to the World Cup in Holland in May as holders of the grand slam. They will do so thanks to a penalty goal kicked by Paula Chalmers, which earned them victory over England at Inverleith on Saturday, though the slim margin of victory does not indicate Scotland's all-round superiority.
Before the last women's World Cup in 1994, which they hosted, Scotland were among the newest of international contenders, but they have established a side that has now overtaken the two countries dominant in women's rugby in the northern hemisphere for the past 15 years, France and England, whose hopes of a successful defence in Holland of the title that they won in Edinburgh four years ago do not look well-founded.
In an error-strewn match, Scotland dominated the set-pieces, almost claiming a pushover try in the second half against an England side that formerly took pride in emulating the men's side in the power of their scrum.
There is, too, far more kicking in the women's game than used to be the case: it is a skill that they have learned to do well, but Scotland overused it on this occasion, for they had a back division with the legs of England.
They proved that in the first quarter, when Kim Littlejohn looped swiftly to retrieve a dropped ball and rounded the English cover. Yet, before the interval, England had made up for two missed penalty attempts from Gill Burns, Maxine Edwards leading a drive on the left before the backs at last sustained a handling movement to create space for Pip Spivey on the right.
Only ten minutes remained when Chalmers, to the delight of Craig, her distinguished brother, who was among the spectators, kicked the penalty that won the game, leaving England with the game against Ireland at Worcester on April 4 to make hasty repairs to their World Cup defence.
SCORERS: Scotland: Try: Littlejohn (13min). Penalty goal: Chalmers (70). England: Try: Spivey (22).
SCORING SEQUENCE (Scotland first): 5-0, 5-5 (half-time), 8-5.
SCOTLAND: A McGrandles (Leeds); D Fairbairn (Murrayfield Wanderers), P Paterson (Richmond), K Littlejohn (Leeds, captain), M Cave (Saracens); R Lewis (Murrayfield Wanderers), P Chalmers (Murrayfield Wanderers); J Taylor (Edinburgh Academicals; rep: E Allsopp, Murrayfield Wanderers, 53), S Scott (Murrayfield Wanderers), K Findley (Richmond), L Cockburn (Edinburgh Academicals), M McHardy (Murrayfield Wanderers), J Afseth (Edinburgh Academicals), B McLeod (Murrayfield Wanderers), D Kennedy (Leeds).
ENGLAND: P George (Wasps); P Spivey (Clifton), S Day (Wasps), S Harris (Waterloo; rep: S Appleby, Saracens, 70), N Brown (Worcester; rep: J Molyneux, Waterloo, 70); G Pragnell (Wasps), E Mitchell (Saracens); T O'Reilly (Saracens), J Potter (Wasps; rep: J Smith, Wasps, 65), M Edwards (Saracens; rep: A O'Flynn, Waterloo, 65), L Uttley (Wasps), T Siwek (Richmond), J Ross (Saracens; rep: J Chambers, Wasps, 10-14, 38-40), G Stevens (Clifton), G Burns (Waterloo, captain).
Referee: P Sleeman (Wales).
Copyright (C) The Times, 1998
Hands, David. "Chalmers gives Scotland World Cup inspiration; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 23 Mar. 1998