Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm has warned that the squad has a lot to iron out before they begin their WXV2 campaign late next week, despite a commanding 36-5 win over Spain at Edinburgh’s Hive Stadium in Saturday night’s friendly. Hosts South Africa are the first opponents for Malcolm’s team in the new global tournament, and the back-row forward expects a demanding challenge. 

“I think we’re in a really good place, but we’ve got a lot of work to do before we play South Africa,” she said. “We know how tough an opposition they are: I thought they were outstanding at the World Cup. 

“They’re probably one of the most physical teams we’ll come up against. We’ll need to front up better than we did on Saturday night, particularly in that first half. We’ve got work to do, and with the quality and character in this squad I’ve got absolutely no doubt that we’ll put that work in to be where we need to be.”

Scotland had to put in a sizeable amount of work before getting the better of opponents who took the lead and looked the stronger team in the first quarter. But unconverted tries from Sarah Bonar, Rhona Lloyd and Meryl Smith gave the home team a 15-5 lead at the break, and the Scots’ superior fitness was steadily more apparent in a second half which saw further touchdowns from Francesca McGhie, Emma Orr and Elis [correct Elis] Martin, all converted by Helen Nelson.

“We said before the game that it was probably going to take a little while to get into it,” Malcolm added. “We hadn’t played together as this squad for a really long time and we just needed to be patient and stick to everything we’ve been doing over the last six weeks. We’ve had a really good pre-season, but everyone has a good pre-season and it’s about how you then apply yourselves.

“That’s exactly how the game went. In the first half the conditions weren’t great and we probably didn’t adapt. At half-time we said let’s just give ourselves a little more space to come on to that ball, and as a result we wore them down.

“It did take us a while to get into it, but I think in that second half you saw [the effect of] the hard work we’d put in in the first half in terms of wearing them down. Then the spaces started to open up.”