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Cruikshank takes positives from narrow Scotland loss

Megan Hyland
Scotland U20s coach Claire Cruikshank was keen to stress the positives after her side were narrowly beaten by hosts Italy in the Women’s Summer Series in Parma.

The boot of Lucy MacRae, along with a fine score from Nicole Flynn, gave Scotland a 13-12 lead at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi at half-time.

But despite dominating territory and possession for much of the second half, it was Greta Copat’s try that ended up deciding the match as Italy won 17-13.

That was frustrating for a Scottish side who had chances to claim the win, including in the final play, but Cruikshank believes there is plenty upon which to build.

She said: “We maybe didn’t hold onto the ball, maybe need to hold onto it a little bit more. But from a defensive point of view, I thought our contact area was brilliant and when we looked to move the ball, we were dangerous. So there are loads of positives to take into the next two games.

“We got to the edge and we created opportunities, we just need to not force it. Those are simple fixes.

“There are lot of things that we can fix quite quickly. There’s some real positives in creating opportunities which is fantastic to see. There are definitely more positives.

“The forwards put in real work across the whole game, scrums, lineout. I thought our lineout was excellent. We definitely had the upper hand in several scrums. So the set-piece gave us a platform and we know that if we can get a platform, then we have the backs who challenge anyone in this competition.”

Next up for Scotland will be France, who opened their campaign with an impressive 57-12 win over Wales.

Les Bleuettes are always strong at age-group level, and Cruikshank knows that her team face a big challenge in five days.

She said: “It was one of those where it was a bit unknown. Nobody had really seen Italy play. We’re excited for the next two games, we’ve got two great challenges coming up with France and Ireland. We’re looking forward to seeing what this squad can do.

“France actually play quite similarly to Italy, they like to keep the ball alive, to move it, they have got some really strong runners. They will be a different challenge to what we faced in this one but one that we are really looking forward to.”