Ireland see off Scottish threat

2015-08-15 20:03
Luke Fitzgerald (Getty Images)

Dublin - Ireland continued their try-laden World Cup build-up by running four tries past Scotland in a 28-22 win at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Chris Henry and Blair Cowan scored for either side in a first half lacking excitement or pattern.

But the match came alive after the break with both sides taking turns to lead, and ultimately Ireland's attacking prowess and stronger bench sealed victory, with Ian Madigan and Simon Zebo impressing.

Zebo limped off before the final whistle, while Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will be concerned over the three tries conceded.

Scotland boss Vern Cotter will be worried over the fitness of prop Ryan Grant, who was stretchered off with a serious looking ankle injury.

With 15 men to be culled from both 46-man squads, both Cotter and Schmidt were eager to allow players to audition with some knowing this would be their one and only opportunity.

Schmidt made 14 changes to the team that beat Wales 35-21 in Cardiff last weekend, with Jack Conan earning his debut, while Gordon D'Arcy became Ireland's longest serving international player with a start at 12 alongside Jared Payne.

Zebo, who impressed off the bench last week, was given a starting role in the less familiar 15 shirt.

It was similar on the opposition side, with Greig Tonks and Ruaridh Jackson at 10 and 15 respectively, swapping their usual roles, and 22-year-old Hugh Blake making his debut.

There was little between the sides in a turgid opening 15 minutes, before Henry crossed the line on Ireland's first real entry into the Scottish 22.

Devin Toner collected from the lineout, and the hosts powered their way through the phases, with Henry picking up from two yards out, and Dave Kilcoyne adding his ballast to push the Ulster backrow over the whitewash.

Scotland levelled things just after the half hour, following some good build up play with David Denton heavily involved.

The No.8 bundled Mike Ross out of his way, and some snappy handling followed from Jackson and Richie Vernon, whose glorious offload gave Cowan an easy touch down.

Peter Horne added the extras to tie things, but the Glasgow Warriors star squandered a kickable penalty moments later to take the lead.

The visitors were in the ascendancy as half time arrived, and the break did little to quell their momentum.

Henry Pyrgos scored their second try just four minutes after the restart, with strong play by Ryan Grant and Jon Welsh setting up the skipper who dummied inside, then dived low between Ross and Conan.

Ireland needed just ten minutes to reply, and when they did so it was painfully easy from a Scottish point of view.

Touhy, replaced by Paul O'Connell seconds later, gathered the lineout and the Irish pack simply bulldozed through the Scots defence, with Cronin peeling off to stroll home.

Both sides began to empty their benches at this point, and Ireland sub Dave Kearney made an instant impact, cutting through the Scots defence with his first touch, and Madigan's inside pass found the flying Zebo who finally bagged a try.

The tries kept coming.

The home crowd were silenced momentarily following a great break by Sean Lamont, who gave Horne an easy run in, and Jackson's conversion put the visitors back in the lead.

But they were cheering seconds later when Madigan, in commanding form, delivered a millimetre-perfect cross kick for Fitzgerald to run on to, and put Ireland into an ultimately unassailable lead.

Ireland are in Pool D at the World Cup alongside France, Italy, Romania and Canada while Scotland will play in Pool B with South Africa, Samoa, Japan and the United States.

The World Cup gets underway on September 18.

Read more on:    ireland  |  scotland  |  rugby


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