Scotland put past narrow defeats to Spain behind them with a comfortable 36-12 victory over Las Leonas in the first women’s international of the year in Almeria.
Las Leonas had come out on top by a single score in the last three meetings between the teams and were on a four-match winning run in the fixture dating back to 2011, but Scotland turned the formbook on its head with an impressive six-try display.
Hannah Smith grabbed a first-half double, Leah Bartlett and Molly Wright marked their debuts with tries and Megan Gaffney and Rhona Lloyd also crossed the whitewash.
With three rating points gained in victory, Scotland are now just over one point away from reaching the top 10 in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings for the first time.
Despite the loss, Spain stay in ninth place but with a reduced points total of 72.54 points and Scotland remain in ninth on 70.27.
Scotland have a chance to overhaul Ireland in 10th place when they meet in Dublin a week on Sunday in the opening round of the Women's Six Nations.
Scotland head coach Philip Doyle was delighted with the win, his third in a row away from home since taking over from Shade Munro in August after an earlier 2-0 series win in South Africa.
Plenty of positives
“I am elated, I am so, so happy with the team and the way they performed. They had to dig themselves out of some holes at certain stages in that match but there are so many positives to take out of the match,” he said.
“We had two first cappers score on their first matches and credit to the forwards pack for turning over scrum twice. The backs had a field day, Hannah (Smith) out in the centre was a serious threat in the game.”
It took Scotland just one minute to open the scoring with Smith crossing after a stunning move that started from inside their own half.
Captain Helen Nelson was successful with the conversion but failed with her second attempt when Gaffney increased Scotland’s lead to 12-0 after eight minutes.
Spain’s forwards then seized the initiative and the home side managed two tries in quick succession, the second coming while Scotland were down to 14 players, to level the scores at 12-12 approaching the half-hour mark.
However, Scotland went into the break in front after Smith weaved her way through the defence for her second try of the match.
A dominant second-half performance saw Scotland score 17 unanswered points with tries for debutants Bartlett and Wright either side of Rhona Lloyd’s score.
Meanwhile, tries from Aoife Doyle, Hannah O’Connor, Eimear Considine and Edel McMahon sealed a 22-12 win for Ireland over Wales in a training match in Cardiff.