Scotland 31 - 21 Ireland
Earlier this month Andrew Henderson became a father for the first time, and this afternoon, despite sleepless nights, he was able to celebrate the birth of his son in the perfect way in international rugby. The Glasgow centre scored three of Scotland's five tries in victory against Ireland in the Bank of Scotland Corporate Test match at Murrayfield: it was hardly surprising that he was named Man of the Match.
Scotland 31 - 21 Ireland
Earlier this month Andrew Henderson became a father for the first time, and this afternoon, despite sleepless nights, he was able to celebrate the birth of his son in the perfect way in international rugby. The Glasgow centre scored three of Scotland’s five tries in victory against Ireland in the Bank of Scotland Corporate Test match at Murrayfield: it was hardly surprising that he was named Man-of-the-match.
Scotland dominated the first half. But they had to survive a strong Irish comeback in the third quarter before Henderson made victory secure with his third try - their first win against Ireland since September 2001.
Henderson's hat trick was the first by a Scot in international rugby since Chris Paterson's treble against Japan at Perth in November 2004. The last time Scotland scored as many as five was when they notched half a dozen against Romania in Bucharest in June 2005.
Afterwards, Frank Hadden, Scotland’s head coach, expressed pleasure with the performance and the result. “That win gave us momentum going into the World Cup," he commented. “We took the enthusiasm, intensity, and energy from our preparation in to the game. We were dominant in the contact areas and scrummage.”
Jason White, Scotland’s captain, was pleased with his return to international rugby after nine months’ injury absence. “I was delighted to be back - delighted to be involved. But I’ll need to get up to speed in the next couple of weeks, especially in the multi-phases.”
The coach also acknowledged that the heavy rain in the morning and during the match “meant it was straightforward how we played the game.” From the start the Scots’ intent to play the game to suit the conditions was obvious. After little more than a minute Chris Paterson struck a penalty into the left corner, and from the lineout there a series of hammering rucks and maul rumbled across the 22 like advancing thunder until Allister Hogg barged over in a melee. Paterson converted.
In what was to be a rare venture into Scottish territory Paddy Wallace kicked a penalty goal for Ireland. Back came the Scots with another close-range penalty lineout and the follow-up percussion. But that assault was thwarted when Geordan Murphy rose to gather a Paterson crosskick that was intended for the Lamont brothers.
Rory Lamont responded by running back an Irish kick to send Ross Ford scampering through deep into opposition territory. That came to naught. But the Scots’ aggressive forward game was soon rewarded again when they produced the ball for Andrew Henderson to touch down beside a post. Paterson again converted - 14-3 for Scotland after 28 minutes.
Murphy interrupted the flow by kicking Ireland’s second penalty goal. But just before half-time the home pack worked up a third try, this one by Euan Murray. It was his second try in successive internationals, following up his score against France in Paris in March. Paterson missed the conversion.
Time was still left for Fergus Thomson to join the fray for his first cap as a blood replacement before Scotland still went into the interval with a lead at 19-6. It was satisfying to all the Scots in the crowd of 25,127.
No sooner had the second started than Thomson almost scored his first international try. Supporting a stirring break by Mike Blair, the substitute hooker was denied inches short of the line. But Scotland’s fourth try was not long denied as Henderson, clearly grabbing a pass that has been deflected behind, dived over in the right corner for his second score of the game only six minutes in to the second half.
Ireland, down 6-24, were not out of the contest, though. Two tries in seven minutes boosted them back into it at 18-24. Isaac Boss pounced from close range, and substitute Andrew Trimble finished off a crossfield sweep.
Wallace converted only the first of those. But when he kicked his second penalty goal the Scots’ lead was down to just three points at 24-21.
Jason White, Scotland’s captain, was replaced after 64 minutes, and Irish hopes were raised more when Ronan O’Gara appeared as a subsititute, albeit in place of Brian O’Drsicoll. Immediately, he struck a typically precise kick into right corner, but a chip through to the right corner by Rory Lamont procured a five-metre scrum for Scotland. Nothing came directly from that, but the Scots were in position for their fifth try. Opting for a scrum instead of a free kick, they opened the ways for Dan Parks to send Henderson in for his third try of the match.
Dan Parks converted for 31-21, which was to be a valuable cushion as the Scots finished with 14 men. Chris Cusiter was helped off with an injury, and no subs were left on the bench.
Scotland’s World Cup preparations continue in two weeks’ time on Saturday 25 August with an international against South Africa at Murrayfield. Then it’s off to France for the world tournament itself, beginning for Scotland with a match against Portugal at St Etienne on Sunday 9 September.
Rory Lamont (Sale Sharks); Sean Lamont (Northampton Saints), Rob Dewey (Ulster Rugby), Andrew Henderson (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Webster (Edinburgh Rugby); Chris Paterson (Gloucester), Mike Blair (Edinburgh Rugby); Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh Rugby), Ross Ford (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Nathan Hines (Perpignan), Jim Hamilton (Leicester Tigers), Jason White (Sale Sharks) CAPTAIN, Simon Taylor (Stade Francais), Allister Hogg (Edinburgh Rugby).
Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors) for Taylor (38 minutes), Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors) for Ford (38-43 and 68), Craig Smith (Edinburgh Rugby) for Murray (56), Scott MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets) for White (56), Nikki Walker (Ospreys) for Dewey (60), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan) for Blair (61), Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors) for Paterson (61), Ford for Hamilton (76).
Tries, Henderson (3), Murray, Hogg; conversions, Paterson (2), Parks.
Geordan Murphy; Brian Carney, Brian O'Driscoll CAPTAIN, Gavin Duffy, Tommy Bowe; Paddy Wallace, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Jerry Flannery, Simon Best, Malcolm O'Kelly, Paul O'Connell, Neil Best, Jamie Heaslip, Stephen Ferris.
Alan Quinlan for O’Kelly (4-11, 24-33, half-time-59), Andrew Trimble for Duffy (25), Keith Gleeson for Neil Best (64), Ronan O’Gara for O’Drsicoll (68), John Hayes for Young (70), Rory Best for Flannery (74), Eoin Reddan for Boss (74).
Tries, Boss, Trimble; conversion, Wallace; penalty goals, Wallace (2), Murphy.
Referee - Tony Spreadbury (England).
Man of the match - Andrew Henderson.
Attendance - 25,127.