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Women's Six Nations: Powerful props help send Wales to top of the table

Ffion Lewis (C) - Women's Six Nations: Powerful props triumph for Wales who go top of the table - Jamie Johnston/Getty Images
Ffion Lewis (C) - Women's Six Nations: Powerful props triumph for Wales who go top of the table - Jamie Johnston/Getty Images

The hallmark of Wales’ opening two victories in this Women’s Six Nations has been the power of their props, with both Sisilia Tuipulotu and Gwenllian Pyrs excelling. They are the rocks with which this 34-22 victory over Scotland was built, not only providing a solid foundation in the scrum but contributing four tries between them.

Wales captain Hannah Jones hailed her team’s entire front five as “absolutely outstanding” and is now hoping they can back up their performances so far by beating defending champions England in Cardiff in a fortnight.

They have a maximum 10 points from the wins over Ireland and Scotland, and Jones believes their clash with the Red Roses in round three presents her team’s “best chance” of beating England in recent years.

“Our front five was absolutely outstanding, they really gave us momentum and some of Sisilia’s caries were brilliant and got us on the front foot,” Jones said after this bonus-point win over Scotland.

“We wanted to keep on top through using that front five, keep the pressure on and that was something that the coaches drilled into us through the week in training.

“Now we need to look at the positives from this game, but also the ‘work-ons’ and, after a slight break, build towards the next game - and what a game that could be. England will look to be dominant, but we think this is our best chance to take them on and get the win.”

In the Scottish capital, tighthead Tuipulotu carried on where she left off against Ireland with two tries and another player-of-the-match award.

Loosehead Pyrs scored two tries too. Given the prominence of his props on the scoresheet, Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham joked: “I am not sure the backs are too happy as they want in on the action, but they help us win games.

“I am very proud of the pack, in fact I am very proud of everyone. It was an arm wrestle and credit to Scotland who kept coming back at us. To come out on top in the end was pleasing.”

Looking ahead to hosting England at the Arms Park, he added: “It is going to be a massive challenge. England coming to Cardiff - it doesn’t get much better than that and hopefully we will have a big crowd there cheering us on. It’ll be a great occasion and what the players deserve after two good wins.”

Wales took the lead against Scotland in the third minute when a neat lineout move set up Tuipulotu and Pyrs went over from short range around the half-hour mark to extend Wales’ lead.

The last 10 minutes of the first half belonged to the hosts and a try came from their driving lineout, scored by hooker Lana Skeldon, but they could not capitalise on having a numerical advantage when Kerin Lake was sin-binned. Instead, it was Wales, with 14 players, who scored a crucial third try - Pyrs again - shortly after half-time.

Scotland made things interesting when winger Coreen Grant ran a lovely line to score, with Nelson’s conversion cutting Wales’ lead to just two points, but the visitors drew on the power of their props once more with Tuipulotu showing immense strength to get over.

There was a flurry of points in the final 15 minutes. The dancing feet of full-back Chloe Rollie created another Scottish try, but Wales then pulled clear with a  Ffion Lewis try and five points from the boot of stand-off Elinor Snowsill.

Scotland’s losing streak now runs to 11 matches and dates back more than a year. They are not likely to end that run in round three in France but they will surely take confidence from this performance into the latter rounds against Italy and Ireland, much like Wales will into their showdown against the Red Roses.

France make it to two wins from two

France played an hour with 14 players but still thumped Ireland 53-3 at Musgrave Park in Cork in Saturday’s other match.

Prop Annaelle Deshayes was sent off for a high tackle in the 20th minute with France leading 10-0, but the visitors conceded only the three points from the resulting penalty.

They scored nine tries in all, with Pauline Bourdon and Gabrielle Vernier getting two apiece. Audrey Forlani, Caroline Boujard, Agathe Sochat, Cyrielle Banet and Charlotte Escudero also scored