Club International: Ireland 26 Scotland 21
Scotland shared three tries apiece with their hosts at the Old Belvedere ground in Dublin tonight in the club international but the absence of poise at crucial moments ultimately proved their undoing.
Trailing 7-23 some 15 minutes into the second-half, it was a decent fightback by the Scots but it did not enable them to build on their win against their French counterparts at Millbrae last month.
The Scots’ coach Ally Donaldson reflected: “We’re really disappointed to lose that. I think the difference was Ireland made us work harder for our three tries than we made them work – we probably lost tries too easily.
“We still could have snuck it at the end and the way we came back was testament to the team.”
There was plenty of menace from the visitors’ backs, with Callum Anderson making dazzling breaks in each half . . . if only the quality of the initial surge had been followed by composure and points on both occasions.
The Irish opened the scoring with a penalty by their stand-off Craig Ronaldson and his opposite number, Lee Millar, had an opportunity to level after good work by Fraser Thomson and Sean Crombie. However his kick drifted to the left of the posts.
The first Irish try, from their openside flanker and man of the match, Barry O’Mahony, stretched their lead to 8-0 after 22 minutes but from the restart Scotland attacked on the right for Anderson to release Thomson on a sweet two on one and the full-back raced in for the try. Millar converted.
Anderson then blazed away into the Irish 22 but a saving tackle by his opposite number, Cathal Quinn, denied the Scots and by the break, Ronaldson’s second penalty and a turnover which the Irish exploited with a good angle and 45 metre run from O’Mahony for their second try (Ronaldson converting) saw them 18-7 to the good.
A maddeningly soft try 14 minutes into the second-half – when Scotland had done the hard work through Scott Sutherland’s lineout provision inside their own 22 – saw Ireland attack on the narrow side from a scrum after a Scottish error and full-back Roger McBurney claimed their third try.
Scotland’s riposte saw Crombie thunder over from a close-range rumble and Rory McKay at last embellish more dancing feet from Anderson with their third try, Millar adding the extras on both occasions.
Thus Scotland were adrift by a mere two points at 21-23 with 12 minutes remaining. The breakdown had been fiercely contested all evening with remarkably little whistle then, all of a sudden, a penalty to the hosts from English referee Luke Pearse, which Ronaldson goaled admirably.
Scotland did force their way into the Irish 22 as the clock ticked inexorably towards no-side but having opted to scrum on a penalty in the shadow of the hosts’ posts, the Scots’ heel was disrupted and Ireland hustled and harried to such effect that the chance was lost.
Club International: Ireland – Roger McBurney; Cian Aherne, Killian Lett, Mike Kelliher, Cathal Quinn; Craig Ronaldson, Gerry Hurley; Rob Sweeney, Ger Slattery, Christy Condon, Philip Donnellan, Fergal Walsh, Simon Crawford, Barry O’Mahony, Hugh Hogan. Subs; Hugh McGrath, Risteard Byrne, Liam Murphy, Frank Cogan, Brian Slater, Barry Keeshan, James Thompson.
Scotland – Fraser Thomson (Melrose); Callum Anderson (Aberdeen Rugby), Ross Curle (Ayr), Dean Kelbrick (Glasgow Hawks), Dougie Fife (Currie); Lee Millar (Gala), Alex Black (Edinburgh Accies); John Cox (Currie, Sean Crombie (Boroughmuir) captain, Alan Brown (Dundee HSFP), Scott Sutherland (Ayr), Rory McKay (Glasgow Hawks), Graeme Dodds (Melrose), Rob Colhoun (Ayr), Ross Weston (Currie). Subs: Neil Dymock (Dundee HSFP) for Cox and Gary Holborn (Melrose) for A Brown both 49 mins, Richie Hawkins (Dundee HSFP) for Sutherland and Andrew Rose (Boroughmuir) for Dodds (both 55 mins), Fraser Brown (Heriot’s) for Crombie, Morgan Ward (Aberdeen Rugby) for Black and Danny Gilmour (Stirling County) for Kelbrick (all 64 mins).
Referee: Luke Pearce (England).