Scotland v Italy: Fast start key as Lisa Thomson chases third-place play-off
A sluggish start cost Scotland dearly against England on the opening weekend of the Women’s Six Nations and Lisa Thomson is adamant they won’t make the same mistake against Italy in Glasgow on Saturday.
Both sides are chasing the win that would take them into the third-place play-off of the revamped tournament. Having beaten both Scotland and Italy, England have already won Pool A so the match at Scotstoun will decide who ends up second in the group.
Each nation will play the side that finishes in the corresponding position in Pool B next weekend to decide final placings.
“We were slow to get started in the first half last week,” acknowledged Thomson who has been switched from inside to outside centre for the Italy game. “We definitely have to play from the first whistle as we know Italy will come at us, especially in those first 20 minutes so we put a big emphasis on that for us too.
“They are an aggressive bunch that will come out at us in those first 20 minutes. They have big ball carriers and tackle hard as well and will look to jackal the ball so our attacking breakdown will have to be on it.”
It’s four years since Scotland beat Italy and Thomson played a key role that day at Broadwood, setting up the home side’s first try for Chloe Rollie as they fought back from 12-0 down to secure a 14-12 victory.
A repeat performance would be a welcome tonic for the Scots who performed impressively and aggressively in the second half against England despite the heavy scoreline. The strong finish was a reflection of their improved fitness but Thomson knows they must combine this with a confident start.
“The big thing we have been speaking about in the past six, nine months is belief,” said the centre. “Believing in ourselves, believing we can do it. We have to start well and believe we can keep going. We have done a lot of stuff in training without games but we have had scenario-based run-outs and training games.
“There is a lot of belief in the squad and a lot of good conversations happening off the pitch and good feedback from the coaches and everybody is really approachable so you learn from each other which has become a massive part of our game.
“We’ve been training so hard since August and everybody is just so excited to get playing again. We’re so ready to get going.
“We keep saying we’re the fittest team to have played for Scotland. We saw that last week coming out for the second half and we’re going to show that again, but for the full 80 minutes this weekend.”
Scotland coach Bryan Easson believes his side can capitalise at the set-piece.
“Italy have struggled in the lineout and we’ve pinpointed that, while we thought our scrum was in a good place against England,” he said. “There were two or three scrums where we just needed to be more composed.
“Our set piece has been getting better and we have put emphasis on that. I think in the past the set piece has been at about 50 or 60 per cent success rate. We are [now] looking at the high 80s or 90s.”