SCOTLAND’S Club XV lifted the Dalriada Cup with their first victory over Ireland since 2009 after an entertaining encounter at Ayr’s Millbrae ground.
Man-of-the-match Alex Allan, No 8 Andrew Nagle and winger Craig Gossman were stand-outs in the 30-18 victory.
The hosts got off to a fast start and some forceful runs from Nagle and slick passing from scrum-half George Graham were in evidence. But it was Ireland who had the first chance to get points on the board in the third minute, but stand-off Gavin Dunne pushed a relatively simple kick wide. London Scottish-bound Lee Millar then missed two penalties within a minute for the Scots.
A rampaging run from Allan then set-up Scotland’s third kickable penalty in the 11th minute. The Edinburgh Accies man, showed great skill and a turn of speed to run 30 metres and, when the defence were offside at the next breakdown, Millar made it 3-0.
Two minutes later, Scotland’s forwards combined for a great try. Aberdeen Grammar second-row Murray Douglas gave the scoring pass to Allan, who had clearly got the taste for having ball in hand, and he crashed over. Millar’s conversion hit the post. A frantic first 20 minutes came to an end when Millar kicked two more penalties. As the half hour approached, Ireland were pushing hard to get themselves on the scoreboard when their second-row Brian Quill went down injured.
After a ten-minute delay while his ankle problem was attended to, the game continued and, after ten phases of Irish pressure, a loose pass by Dunne as he tried to force the issue was hacked away by Scotland centre Max Learmonth. He kicked it along the ground a few times before just knocking on with the tryline in sight.
As the interval approached, Ireland tried to gain some momentum, but the Scottish defence held firm. And, on the stroke of half-time, Millar added his fourth penalty of the night from in front of the posts to make it 17-0 after Gossman had gone close with a good run. Three minutes after the break, Dunne’s penalty got Ireland’s first points of the match.
And, soon after, a great attacking lineout and drive gave replacement hooker Richard Sweeney a try just moments after entering the fray and the visitors’ tails were up. In the 50th minute, they had a man advantage when Scotland hooker Fraser Brown was yellow-carded and Dunne kicked another three points to make it 17-11.
Then Currie full-back Jamie Forbes sparked a great Scotland break from his own 22, with Allan again showing great pace to get play up to the Irish half. Millar then missed a penalty before a superb try by Gossman.
The flier ran past the Irish defenders in the midfield as if they were not there as he ran in under the posts from 30 metres out. Millar converted. With back-row William Ryan then yellow carded for Ireland and Brown back on, the momentum swung back Scotland’s way.
That was until 14-man Ireland grabbed a try through No 8 Frank Cogan, with Dunne converting with ten minutes to go. However, two late Millar penalties saw the Scottish side home.
Scorers: Scotland Club XV – Tries: Allan, Gossman. Pens: Millar (6). Con: Millar. Ireland Club XV – Tries: Sweeney, Cogan. Pens: Dunne 2. Con: Dunne.
Scotland Club XV: J Forbes; C Gossman, M Learmonth, D Kelbrick, C Robertson; L Millar, George Graham; R Hislop, F Brown, A Allan, M Douglas, R Miller, M Cairns, A Nagle, Hamish Watson. Subs used: K Bryce, G Holborn, L Pettie, A Duckett, Gary Graham, P Jericevich, C Ferguson.
Ireland Club XV: R Mullane; C Aherne, K Lett, S Morrow, D Fanning; G Dunne, G Hurley; C McMahon, R Byrne, K Griffin, B Quill, B Reilly, W Ryan, F Cogan, D Kenny. Subs used: P O’Regan, R Sweeney, C Butterworth, S Grannell, S Cronin, D Lyons, F Horan.
Referee: T Foley (England).