Under-18 international: Scotland 12 Ireland 31
Scotland could not repeat their tremendous success against their English counterparts when they were by some distance second best to their smart and savvy visitors at Braidholm today.
The consequence of this five tries to two loss is that the young Scots will now be playing in the FIRA/AER Tier 1 competition, whereas Ireland’s result salvages their place in the elite FIRA tier.
Scotland under-18 head coach Grant McKelvey acknowledged that the outcome was both disappointing and frustrating. “Our main goal in this campaign was to qualify for the elite group in FIRA. Today’s was a pressure contest, a proper Test match, and we really didn’t deal with the physical side or the pressure, especially in the first-half,” he lamented.
He also pointed to some poor “game management” – the most glaring example of which was the Scots’ failure to clear their lines in the second-half, which they had started well, a try reducing their deficit to just one score.
As expected, Ireland stood on no ceremony at the breakdown - with openside flanker Dan Leavy (also a regular source of lineout ball) excelling – and were potent behind the scrum where centre Chris Farrell was a worthy winner of the RBS Man of the Match award, which he received from SRU president, Ian McLauchlan.
Farrell had opened the scoring with a fifth minute try and a quickly taken tap penalty three minutes later, saw Farrell menace again before he off-loaded to stand-off Rory Scannell for try number two. Luke McGrath’s conversion made it 12-0.
Scotland were too reticent at breakdown in the opening salvoes and thus appeared far too slow of thought and lateral of deed when they did win ball.
One sensed it wasn’t going to be their day when Jamie Farndale failed to fasten on to a kick-ahead from Sam Hidalgo Clyne with a try beckoning, however, Scotland did pull back one score.
From a tap penalty captain Jamie Bhatti surged, for his pack to recycle and Alex Glashan released No 8 Adam Ashe for a drive-over try. Hidalgo Clyne converted and Scotland trailed 7-12 after 25 minutes.
In first-half injury time Ireland were rewarded for eschewing a kick at goal to the left of the posts inside the Scots’ 22 as, with Farrell and Leavy prominent in the build-up, No 8 Ryan Murphy dotted down try number three. McGrath’s conversion made it 19-7 to the Irish at the interval.
Two minutes into the second-half Russell Anderson bruised in for the Scots’ second try, which owed much to Chris Auld’s break, a try made and finished in Dumfries and Galloway! Hidalgo Clyne’s conversion attempt bounced off the right hand upright and stayed out.
Scotland changed their half-backs but their inability to clear ball from their own 22 – most disappointingly from a scrummage on their right – saw Ireland grab the decisive try. Anderson, the home hooker, was free-kicked for a dummy throw at the lineout (a harsh call) and Ireland went through the phases for right wing Conor McEllin to touch down.
Scotland tried to up the tempo but as they looked to be gaining some momentum a pass from Robbie Fergusson, right to left, was intercepted by McEllin who raced home from about 55 metres for his second try, which McGrath converted.
In the closing 15 minutes, Scotland enjoyed territory and a welter of penalties as Ireland had tight-head prop Ed Byrne and Leavy sin-binned for breakdown malarkey in separate incidents but in spite of being held up on or near the line on two occasions and Allan being denied at the right corner flag, the hosts could not claw back any score.
Scotland under-18: Keith Buchan (Strathallan); Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Academy)* Robbie Fergusson (Ayr) Chris Auld (Dumfries/Austin Friars School), Rory Hughes (GHA/Glasgow MET College); Sam Hidalgo Clyne (Merchiston Castle School), Alex Glashan (Edinburgh Academy); Jamie Bhattie (Stirling County) CAPTAIN, Russell Anderson (Langholm), Colin Hutton (Stirling County), Callum Templeton (Dumfries)* Adam Barnett (GHA/Mearns Castle School), Alex Henderson (Strathallan), Adam Ashe (Stirling County), Will Bordill (Sale Sharks/Sandbach School). Subs: Scott Steele (Dumfries/Merchiston Castle School)* for Glashan and Tommy Allan (London Wasps/RGS High Wycombe) for Hidalgo Clyne both 44 mins, Jonathan Matthews (Leeds Carnegie/Prince Henry’s Otley) for Anderson (49 mins), Robby Wilson (Boroughmuir/Dunbar GS)* for Bhatti (58 mins), Stuart Graham (Hawick PSA) for Henderson (63 mins).
* = Member of Performance Player Development Programme supported by Area Institutes of Sport
Ireland under-18: Jack Fitzpatrick; Conor McEllin, Robert Henshaw, Chris Farrell, Cian O’Halloran; Rory Scannell, Luke McGrath CAPTAIN; Gordon Frayne, Bryan Byrne, Ed Byrne, Jerry Sexton, Donogh Lawler, Mark Best, Ryan Murphy and Dan Leavy. Subs: Luke Satchwell for Best (49 mins), Chris Taylor for Satchwell (57 mins).
Referee: Matteo Liperini (Italy)