England bounced back from their defeat to Ireland with a 42-13 win against Scotland but the Scots will take great heart from their scoring return which gave them their best ever scoring total against England. Scotland have never scored as many points against England in 6 Nations before with their only previous win against England ending in an 8-5 scoreline in 1998.
In their first ever appearance on the Northern Echo Arena in Darlington, England started very well with a try in the first minute. It was a dream start for a DMP Sharks player in front of her home crowd as speedy wing Ruth Laybourn finished off a well worked backs move to help her side to an early lead.
Another home town player, Katy Mclean couldn’t make the conversion and Scotland got back into it with a well struck penalty from Nuala Dean. England raced away for score number two - remarkably another DMP Sharks player scored with vice-captain Tamara Taylor burrowing over.
Scotland stepped up their tenacity though and fly-half Lisa Martin added three points when the home side were punished for not rolling away, making the score 10-6.
Just before half-time, England made it 20-6 with a try from prop Justine Lucas, who muscled her way over from close range, after a solid line-out, before fellow prop Rochelle Clark claimed England’s fourth try.
After the break, England were in control but slippery conditions hampered the run of play. In the end though they made it count when scrum-half Bianca Blackburn recycled the ball out to Harriet Millar-Mills and then Pocock, waiting on the wing, dotted it down to score in her first game for two years.
Scotland hit back with an intercept try from England with Eilidh Sinclair scoring. Deans added the conversion to reduce the deficit to 25-13 but England soon started to find their stride again running in a further three tries.
Laybourn added her second on 56 minutes after Mclean made a good break.
Scotland piled on the pressure in the last period of play, threatening to score on a number of occasions but, against the run of play, England notched the final points, Laybourn completing her hat-trick.
England Acting Head Coach Nicola Ponsford said: “We set out to win this game but we also wanted to focus on our performance. In some areas we performed well but in other areas we weren’t up to the standard that we wanted to be at, like our penalty count for example. We also made too many errors and that was a little disappointing.
“In the second half, we settled into the patterns we wanted to play and built some really good phases of play. We scored some good tries which was great to see. We are progressing as a new team, the new players are funding their feet and generally our defence has been good. We had a great crowd here tonight and we are now looking forward to being back at Twickenham on Saturday when we play France.”
Scotland Head coach Jules Maxton said: “We’re a work in progress. We could have scored another try and put some more points on the board but our defence has improved and I was pleased with our contact area at times – it’s just about consistency.
“A lot of people travelled down and we appreciate the support we got here today – it’s a great experience to play in front of a crowd of nearly 8000.”
England; 15 Fiona Pocock (Richmond), 14 Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 13 Abigail Brown (Bristol), 12 Ceri Large (Worcester), 11Lydia Thompson (Worcester), 10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) Captain, 9 Bianca Blackburn (Worcester), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Victoria Fleetwood (Saracens), 3 Justine Lucas (Lichfield), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) Vice-captain, 5 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 6 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), 7 Hannah Field (Richmond), 8 Harriet Millar-Mills (Waterloo). Replacements: 16 Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), 17 Victoria Cornborough (Richmond), 18 Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 19 Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 20 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 21 Fiona Davidson (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 22 Amber Reed (Bristol), 23 Lauren Cattell (Saracens)
Substitutions: Davidson for Blackburn (15), Blackburn for Davidson (21), Reed for Brown, Cokayne for Fleetwood, Cornborough for Clark (all HT),
Scotland; 15. Chloe Rollie (Melrose), 14. Eilidh Sinclair (Murrayfield Wanderers), 13. Hannah Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill), 12. Nuala Deans (Wasps), 11. Abi Evans (Northumbria University), 10. Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers), 9. Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers), 1. Lisa Robertson (Murrayfield Wanderers), 2. Lana Skeldon (Melrose), 3. Tracy Balmer (Worcester), 4. Deborah McCormack (Richmond), 5. Emma Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), 6. Rachael Cook (Murrayfield Wanderers), 7. Karen Dunbar (RHC Cougars), 8. Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill).
Replacements: 16. Lindsey Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill), 17. Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill), 18. Katie Dougan (RHC Cougars), 19. Fiona Sim (Saracens), 20. Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester), 21. Mhairi Grieve (RHC Cougars), 22. Claire Bain (RHC Cougars), 23. Jenny Maxwell (Lichfield)