Six Nations 2015: Jules Maxton rues Scotland’s lack of composure
Dark Blues head coach left disappointed after poor start in 31-8 defeat to Italy Women, but believes there is a lot more to come
Jules Maxton was left to rue Scotland Women’s lack of composure as they slumped to a 31-8 defeat to Italy in Cumbernauld on Sunday afternoon.
The Dark Blues head coach saw her side concede two tries in the opening 15 minutes as poor tackling from the hosts allowed Italy to ghost through over the tryline.
The pleasing thing was we scored a try and a penalty, but for the number of times we were in their 22 we need to make sure we’re getting over the line.
Despite conceding five tries, there were some positives for Maxton, who saw back-row forward Jade Konkel surge over the Italy tryline late in the match to add to an earlier penalty from Nuala Deans.
It was Scotland’s first try in the tournament since Annabel Sergeant went over late in their 45-5 defeat to Italy last February, with the winger’s try the only points they could muster in the 2014 championship.
“Again it’s disappointing when you’ve got a lot of possession and you’re not turning it into points,” Maxton said.
“The pleasing thing was we scored a try and a penalty, but for the number of times we were in their 22 we need to make sure we’re getting over the line.
“We’re really pleased that we managed to get some points on the board and it shows just what we’re capable of. We can do it, but it’s about doing it more than once.
“So that’s the next job: How do we take more of the opportunities?
“I feel in that game we managed to break the line a number of times, but just couldn’t finish it off.”
Scotland Women’s last win in the Six Nations came at Lasswade in February 2010 when they defeated France 10-8, but they are still going through a slow rebuilding process with a relatively inexperienced team.
It’s probably a bit of composure and not executing skills properly in that second that it matters. I don’t think it’s a lack of confidence because we’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. We’re trying to play as creative and exciting rugby as possible.
Similar to the new mould taking shape with the men’s national team since Vern Cotter took the reins last summer, the women’s team is also aiming to develop a quick, expansive game, albeit with a tiny fraction of the resources.
The signs are there, if not for a full 80 minutes, that Scotland are improving.
They held Wales to just six points in the opening half at Broadwood last month, eventually succumbing 39-3, whereas they started poorly in the opening quarter against Italy and grew into the game.
Handling errors also proved to be costly at key moments throughout the match, both in attack and defence, with Italy making the most of the opportunities handed to them.
And Maxton admits she was disappointed with a poor start that allowed the Italians to build a healthy lead, leaving Scotland chasing the game for over an hour.
“The first 20 minutes we weren’t firing on all cylinders defensively,” she added.
“In attack we made mistakes that gave them the ball and they quite rightly capitalised on it.
“I was disappointed with the first 20 minutes defensively; we allowed them to get on the outside of us.
“Second half of the first half, we came back into the game and we really needed to score before half-time.
“We had a lot of possession again [in the second half] and then, very quickly, we don’t concede one, we concede two, so it’s about managing that.
“It’s probably a bit of composure and not executing skills properly in that second that it matters.
“I don’t think it’s a lack of confidence because we’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. We’re trying to play as creative and exciting rugby as possible.”
The latest defeat leaves the Dark Blues on course for a fifth successive RBS 6 Nations whitewash with their remaining two games to come away to world champions England in Darlington before hosting 2013 Grand Slam winners Ireland, who finished fourth at last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup.
If we can manage to keep this group of players and provide opportunities for others to come, and have a bit of consistency for a couple of years, I think we can be prove an exciting, attacking side.
While this year’s championship may not yield a victory for the Dark Blues, which could impact on their ability to reach the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup after falling to defeats to rivals Wales and Italy, Maxton refused to be drawn on resetting targets.
Their focus is simply about continuing to gel as a team and getting points on the board, while hoping to keep many of their current number together.
“The more time that we can spend together the more we’re going to be able to gel as a team and cope with the demands, whatever they are,” Maxton said.
“The team that we’ve got here, I think we’ve only got two or three people who played for Scotland two years ago – they’re almost completely new.
“If we can manage to keep this group of players and provide opportunities for others to come, and have a bit of consistency for a couple of years, I think we can be prove an exciting, attacking side.
“The target is what we’ve said previously, which is to try and get more points on the board.
“So building on the [eight points against Italy and three against Wales] and making sure we can try and finish, and execute skills, under pressure when we’ve had a period of possession, and get down into the opponents’ half and compete.”