By Lucy Millard
Last Saturday saw our World Cup preparation really begin, with our first game since the Six Nations. After putting together a good performance in our final Six Nations game away in Ireland against a strong home side, we were eager to get out on the pitch and build on it.
The well-known Scottish tropical climate ensured the sun was shining (no, really!), the beer flowed - for the spectators obviously - and the mood was set for an entertaining afternoon of rugby. Perhaps it was entertaining, but unfortunately the game didnt go the way we would have wanted.
South Africa are a physical team, and have shown just how much they have invested in their womens game since the last World Cup.
We definitely displayed signs of the inevitable rust from not having played much rugby in recent weeks, and were disappointed with the performance and the scoreline at the end of the game.
Having said that, the two-test series is just that, which means we have that rare thing you dont often get in international sport - a second chance.
With the first test now behind us, we have an opportunity to really kick off our preparation and move forward to get a better result this Saturday. The summer has seen the coaches concentrate a lot on fitness, and we are certainly seeing the benefits of this. They might not admit to it, but Im sure that even the front row secretly loves doing pitch shuttles until they pass out.
Now, we need to build on our team plays, make our skills stick when it matters and really pull together to put in a massive team performance at the weekend.
For the second test, the coaches have made several changes. This is indicative of the type of environment, and the type of squad we need if we are to compete effectively at the World Cup. As well as the fact that warm up matches allow different combinations to be tried out on the pitch, everyone in the team is very much aware that if they dont perform, there is someone else close behind to step in.
It is particularly good to see Suzi the Unit Newton back after a long lay-off through injury, and also an exciting occasion for Katy Green, who gets her first start on the wing.
The South African team will have enjoyed a number of training sessions this week, although I know they were planning to do a bit of sightseeing at Edinburgh Castle. I couldnt give any meaningful recommendation on this, as, rather shamefully after 9 years in Edinburgh Ive still not been when you have to train every day that hill just seems a little bit too much effort.
We too have aimed to identify and work on a number of areas arising from Saturdays game, and now it is just a matter of getting back onto the pitch and having another go.