Women's Six Nations 2017: Scotland get their kicks as maths add up for Sarah Law

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland
Sarah Law kicks a penalty to give Scotland Women victory over Wales
Sarah Law's penalty gave Scotland their first Six Nations win in seven years

Imagine standing over a kick to win a Test match for your country. Imagine, also, that the kick, should you land it, would bring your country their first win in the Six Nations in 36 games stretching back seven years.

Your home stadium is silent as you stand over the ball. Your heart is beating out of your chest. You can practically hear the prayers being said on your behalf by your team-mates. No pressure, eh? No pressure at all.

That was Sarah Law two minutes from the end of Scotland's Championship match with Wales at Broadwood last Friday. Scotland had trailed 14-0 but had got it back to 14-12 - and now they had this penalty.

"Going 14-0 down, we didn't panic, we all knew that we were capable of grinding out a win," said Law, the 22-year-old scrum-half and applied mathematics student at Edinburgh University. "The team had worked so hard to get us into that position, so there was a bit of pressure, yeah."

Law's kick was a beauty. Straight down the middle, straight between the sticks, never a second's worry about the ball going anywhere other than where she wanted it to go. Scotland, finally, had won. And if you think the scenes at full-time at Murrayfield the following day were joyous, then this was another level.

"It was just relief," said Law. "Pretty special. I've been smiling all weekend. It was the result of a lot of hard work over the last few years. We felt our performances were getting better and better and we've been saying it for the last two seasons. Everybody would give everything for the other 14 in the team, but you need to get the win."

Women's Six Nations highlights: Scotland Women 15-14 Wales Women

To realise what it meant, you have to look at what Scotland's women's team have been through, the hidings that could have crushed them had they not been so driven.

Law wasn't around the last time Scotland won a Six Nations match, a 10-8 win against France in 2010. She wasn't around for some of the difficult days from there on - the 89 points England took them for in 2011, the 47 points England scored the following season, the 76 points they got the season after that.

She saw enough of those days during her 28 caps, though. Law was on the field when France beat Scotland 76-0 in 2013, she was there throughout the 2014 season when Scotland lost all five games by scores of 25-0, 45-3, 59-0, 63-0 and 69-0. The following season saw them lose another five games and concede 227 points, the season after brought five more defeats and 146 points conceded.

"You just had to tell yourself that the work would be worth it in the end. It was hard at times, especially in a university environment and people asking you (did you win) and you saying, 'No, we ended up on the wrong side of it again'. But then to go into Uni on Monday morning and say, 'You know what, we did it' was a fantastic feeling."

There were signs of improvement of late. Sure, Scotland got hammered 55-0 by the French last time out but in their opening game only a converted try separated the Scots from the Irish, the Grand Slam winners of 2013 and Championship winners of 2015.

Law could sense that some kind of pay-off was due soon and now that it's arrived they have a bit of momentum. With "world class" England up next that momentum could be checked pretty quickly, but the Scots have confidence now, a precious commodity that they have lived without throughout their international careers.

"After Friday, trying to get back into the library and concentrating has been quite hard. My university dissertation is due next week so it's been a busy time trying to fit everything in."

By the look of it, she's managing just fine.

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