Ireland claimed an unconvincing 28-22 win against Scotland in their World Cup warm-up match in Dublin on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
The Six Nations champions had made 14 changes to the team that beat Wales 35-21 in Cardiff last weekend, with a number of first-choice players returning. Scotland, who lost all of their Six Nations matches this year, opted to test a number of fringe players in their first warm-up fixture before trimming their 46-man squad to 31.
However, the No 12-ranked Scots more than held their own against the No 2-ranked Irish, and led 22-21 with 10 minutes to go, before Ireland scored their fourth try to prevent an upset.
The first half was a tight affair with both sides scoring a converted try.
Ireland's came in the 14th minute when Chris Henry used his strength to power over from 3m out. Scotland responded on the half-hour mark after a patient build-up saw Ruaridh Jackson put Blair Cowan away in the right-hand corner.
Scotland then took the lead early in the second half when, two phases after a good lineout drive, Henry Prygos darted away from the ruck to score an unconverted try.
Ireland hit back 10 minutes later when Sean Cronin went over from an unstoppable lineout driving maul and Ian Madigan slotted the conversion.
A Peter Horne penalty put Scotland ahead 15-14 with 20 minutes to go, before Man of the Match Simon Zebo scored Ireland's third try straight after the restart following a good break by Dave Kearne.
However, that was quickly cancelled out by Horne, who took an inside ball from Sean Lamont and raced away to score. Ruaridh Jackson slotted the conversion to give the visitors a 22-21 lead.
But once again, the lead changed hands almost immediately, with a pin-point cross-kick from Madigan being collected by Luke Fitzgerald, who dotted down for a 70th-minute try.
Madigan kicked the conversion, but then missed a penalty with five minutes to go that would have given his side a nine-point cushion.
It didn't matter, though, as while Scotland pushed hard for a match-winning try after the hooter, they eventually knocked on inside the Irish 22.
Ireland – Tries: Chris Henry, Sean Cronin, Dave Kearne, Luke Fitzgerald. Conversions: Ian Madigan (4).
Scotland – Tries: Blair Cowan, Henry Prygos, Ruaridh Jackson. Conversions: Peter Horne, Ruaridh Jackson. Penalty: Horne.
Ireland – 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Sean O’Brien (c), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Jack Conan, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Subs: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Nathan White, 19 Paul O’Connell, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Dave Kearney.
Scotland – 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Henry Prygos (c), 8 David Denton, 7 Hugh Blake, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Ryan Grant.
Subs: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Mike Cusack, 19 Rob Harley, 20 John Barclay, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Matt Scott.
Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images