A last minute try from full-back Chloe Rollie and an ice-cool conversion from replacement stand-off Sarah Law with the last play of the match secured a dramatic victory for Scotland over Ireland in Parma, Italy, last night, which keeps alive the dream of reaching a first World Cup finals tournament since 2010. 

Bryan Easson’s side now progress to a final repechage qualification tournament against Samoa, Columbia and one of Hong Kong, Japan or Kazakhstan, at a date to be confirmed. 

Italy, the host nation of this European World Cup qualification tournament, defeated Spain 34-10 earlier in the day, meaning they progress directly to the main event as pool winners.   

It was tense stuff, but victorious captain Rachel Malcolm insisted afterwards that she had never doubted her team’s ability to find the result they needed. 

“I’m not going to say that I can’t believe it because I 100 percent always believed that this would be the outcome of today,” she claimed. “The heart, the passion, the work that has been put in by every one of the 28 players in this squad, and also the management, over the last how many months, meant we believed we could do that.” 

“We knew it might be in the last second – which is exactly what happened – but I am so proud of the fight and all the courage the girls showed today on the pitch, and I thoroughly believe we deserved that win. We never gave up.” 

It was heartbreak for Ireland, who started the game as favourites on the basis of their recent record of 14 wins in their last 15 matches against Scotland, and who dominated long periods of this match.  

However, they let their opponents back into the game during the final eight minutes and paid a heavy price.  

On the balance of play, Ireland thoroughly deserved to take the lead on 18 minutes, although the ease with which tight-head prop Linda Djougang was able to wade through half a dozen half-hearted Scottish tackles will not have been the way either side expected the deadlock to be broken. 

It was frustrating from a Scottish perspective because they had generally done a pretty decent job of mopping up the pressure, however they shrugged off the disappointment and hauled themselves back into the game when Helen Nelson fired home the three points following a yellow card for Irish openside flanker Edel McMahon for a high tackle which led to a head collision with Malcolm. 

HeraldScotland:

As half-time approached, Scotland threatened through str0ng carries from Megan Gaffney and Hannah Smith, and they took the lead when Nelson prodded a neat chip into the in-goal area which bounced kindly for Rhona Lloyd. 

The Scots went further ahead early in the second half when Lana Skeldon burrowed over from a close-range line-out, but Ireland bounced back through a Stacey Flood penalty and then began to dominate again, regaining the lead when replacement loose-head Lindsay Peat went in under the posts following a long period of pressure, setting up a straight-forward conversion for Flood.  

Another Flood penalty on 65 minutes made it a five-point game, and all the momentum was now fully with Ireland, but Scotland hung in there, and then roared back into it during the final eight minutes, eventually leading to Rollie’s late intervention which tied the scores. 

That set up a conversion which would normally be categorised as easy, but this was pressure situation. Fortunately for Scotland, their replacement stand-off was the coolest head in the house and made no mistake. 

The victory lifts Scotland to ninth in the world rankings, having been 11th when they flew out to Italy just under three weeks ago.  

Scorers 

Ireland: Tries: Djougang, Peat; Con: Flood; Pen: Flood 2.   
Scotland: Tries: Lloyd, Skeldon, Rollie, Con: Law. Pen: Nelson. 

Ireland: E Considine (L Delany 35-40); A Murphy Crowe, E Higgins, S Naoupu, B Parsons; S Flood, K Dane (E Lane 61); L Feely (L Peat 41), C Moloney, L Djougang; N Fryday, S Monaghan (B Hogan 65), D Wall, E McMahon, C Griffin.  

Scotland: C Rollie; R Lloyd, H Smith, L Thomson, M Gaffney; H Nelson (S Law 46), J Maxwell; L Bartlett (L Cockburn 64), L Skeldon, C Belisle (M Wright 68), E Wassell, L McMillan, R McLachlan (S Bonar 50), R Malcolm (E Gallagher 62), J Konkel.  

Referee: C Munarini. 

Yellow cards

Ireland: McMahon (23mins), Higgins (76mins).