Scotland’s women must have the courage to “go for this one” and win against Wales to recapture momentum after two heavy losses in their Six Nations campaign, says head coach Bryan Easson.
The Scots have been “honest and blunt” about their performance in the defeat to Italy last week. Taking on a Welsh side that haven’t yet scored a point in the championship, they know that the pressure is on to deliver.
‘We’re ready to win’
Easson says they’re good with that, and not hiding from it.
“I’m not going to BS you, of course we want to win. Of course we want to put in a performance to set up for what’s coming ahead this year,” he said.
“We need to get the performance right first, but ultimately it’s about winning. We’ve talked about belief, Now it’s just a case of `we know we are ready to win, let’s just put a little bit of pressure on ourselves, let’s go for this one’.
“We’ve taken that Italy game and said, `okay, it wasn’t good enough and not the standards we expect.’ But let’s use that as a stepping stone to win against Wales.”
‘It’s funny to be called favourites’
Even if Wales are in a bind and have made eight changes for this game, Scotland’s record against them is not great, conceded the coach.
“The last 17 years we have beaten Wales once, so it’s funny to be called favourites,” he said. “But if we get it right there is no reason we can’t go into this game expecting to win.
“We have had our ups and downs against both England and Italy. Having a bump in the road like Italy in terms of our journey has been a positive, as we can sit back and look at it.
“We asked the players to analyse and look at the positives and negatives of the game so it has been a real positive build up.”
The sound of the sirens
The regular sounds of sirens at Scotstoun have not been due to danger. It’s a way Easson and his coaching team are trying to get the team to organise instantly to situations, a key to solving a habit of slow starts to games.
“We’ve been using an air-horn at times,” added Easson. “Maybe we’re doing a handling drill or speed contact, but as soon as the air-horn goes they run straight into a five man lineout. Then they’ll run from whatever they’re doing into an attack drill or a defence drill.
“The mind gets so focused on one area of the game but matches always are full of peaks and troughs. When something changes you’ve got to be ready to move immediately into that.
“This week we felt the time was right to put a little more pressure on our training. Last week against Italy where we struggled was transition, going from defence to attack or vice versa.
“I think that’s a lot to do with what’s happened the first 20 minutes, switching on at the right times for specific things. It has been addressed and we’ll see if it works on Saturday.”
Smith and Maxwell return while Belisle goes to loosehead
The Scots have made three changes for the final game. Christine Belisle plays at loose-head-prop from the start after a game and a half on the tight head. Jenny Maxwell returns at scrum-half after a long absence with an ACL injury.
Hannah Smith is back from GB Sevens camp at outside centre, and Lisa Thomson and skipper Helen Nelson move over to inside centre and stand-off respectively.
“It’s part of Christine’s journey as a prop,” said Easson of the player who has played back row and lock as well.
“We were disappointed defensively against Italy. Christine, defensively round the pitch, brings that little bit more energy as well and around the ruck area that where we know the Welsh are very physical.”
Scotland team (vs Wales, Guinness Six Nations, Scotstoun Stadium, Saturday ko 5.30pm, live on BBC Scotland)
Chloe Rollie (Harlequins); Liz Musgrove (Unattached), Hannah Smith (Watsonians), Lisa Thomson VICE-CAPTAIN (Unattached), Megan Gaffney (Heriots); Helen Nelson CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning); Christine Belisle (Cartha Queens Park), Lana Skeldon (Unattached), Megan Kennedy (Stirling County); Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill); Evie Gallagher (Stirling County), Rachel McLachlan (Unattached), Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County).
Replacements: Jodie Rettie (Saracens), Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park), Nicola Howat (Sale Sharks), Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill), Sarah Law (Unattached), Evie Wills (Stirling County), Rachel Shankland (Stirling County).