Scotland 18 Ireland 11 Scotland, playing with greater imagination, fully deserved their victory in the Club International at Meggetland tonight in front of a crowd of 1112. In gaining revenge for their defeat in the inaugural match at Donnybrook last year, the Scots withstood a rather one-dimensional battering ram approach from the Irish and simply refused to be bullied.Scotland 18 Ireland 11
Scotland, playing with greater imagination, fully deserved their victory in the Club International at Meggetland tonight in front of a crowd of 1112.
In gaining revenge for their defeat in the inaugural match at Donnybrook last year, the Scots withstood a rather one-dimensional battering ram approach from the Irish and simply refused to be bullied.
With captain and man of the match Tam McVie giving the lead, Angus Martyn as dynamic and purposeful as we’ve come to expect, and Graham Thomson scything down Irish defenders like a demented combine harvester, this was a heartening night for the Scottish club game.
Presented with their jerseys by SRU President Andy Irvine before the match, the Scottish side certainly gelled and played with considerable pride.
Scotland head coach Ian Rankin said: “Last year in this fixture the team were bullied. We picked a side on this occasion who were maybe a wee bit more streetwise. Guys just had to front up and knock down Irishmen tonight but that they did. I’m very proud.”
Ireland, conquerors of an English Counties side in Dublin a fortnight ago, enjoyed the better of the first half hour. Their stand-off Andrew Thompson kicked two penalties and full-back Richard McCarter added a 22nd minute try when he romped in on the blindside of a scrum.
Scotland, at that stage, playing with limited possession and very much on the back foot, had only replied through a 13th minute Murray Strang penalty. A bit of continuity for the hosts hinted at a reversal of fortunes and though Strang pushed a penalty wide on the 30th minute, the stand-off’s searing break and judicious kick-ahead set up a try by Marc Teague just on the interval, the score which captain McVie reckoned was the game’s turning point.
Trailing 8-11 at that point, Scotland took the lead for the first time within 13 minutes of the restart. Alasdhair McFarlane harassed his opposite number from an Irish scrum feed, forcing the turnover. Lock Andy Adam was on hand to link and Rory Couper darted around an Irish forward to dot down in the corner.
Scotland were compelled to defend their 13-11 advantage but such was their commitment that Ireland looked the more rattled.
Scotland’s clinching try was a gem. It was scored by Steve Lawrie, who takes up his professional contract with Edinburgh in June, but the poise of Bruce McNeil and John Houston were just as significant as quick hands set the hooker free.
Scotland: James Thompson; Marc Teague(both Heriot’s), Graham Thomson (Dundee HSFP), John Houston (Heriot’s), Rory Couper (Boroughmuir); Murray Strang (Glasgow Hawks), Alasdhair McFarlane (Ayr); Bruce McNeil (Hawick), Steve Lawrie (Watsonians), Richard Higgins (Melrose), Damien Kelly (Ayr), Andy Adam (Currie), Tam McVie (Heriot’s) captain, Ben Fisher, Angus Martyn (both Boroughmuir).
Subs – Andy Kelly (GHA) for Higgins (57 mins), Mark Cairns (Currie) for Martyn (69 mins), Cameron Goodall (Heriot’s) for Thompson (72 mins). Unused subs: Scott Burnett (Currie), Jeff Nicolson, Matt Coupar and Andrew Skeen (all Watsonians).
Ireland: Richard McCarter; Niall O’Brien, Kevin Hartigan, Glen Telford, Cronan Healy; Andrew Thompson, Fiachra O’Loughlin; Dan O’Connell, Kevin Corrigan, Simon Shawe, Merle O’Connell captain, Alan Maher, Peter Malone, Frank Cogan, Conor Hartigan.
Subs: Simon Crawford for M O’Connell and Mark Bruce for O’Loughlin (both 59 mins), Oisin Hennessy for C Hartigan (67 mins), Stephen Nolan for D O’Connell (73 mins).
Referee: Gwyn Morris (Wales)