Scotland’s Club XV won back the Dalriada Cup last night at Netherdale, a brilliant try by Heriot’s back-row Jason Hill clinching victory for them.
With ten minutes to go Hill, later named man of the match, gathered a loose kick just inside his own half and set off on a run.
You got the feeling he was going to get stopped at some point, but he just kept going and going as the defence parted. He dived over the try line for a great solo try and, with the conversion going over, it saw Scotland triumph 23-18.
Hill said: “What a couple of days it has been. I was presented my strip by Al Kellock on Thursday and then I managed to score that try. Although that was a special moment personally, it really was a team effort and we had to dig in hard to win.”
Both sides started with good intent and it was Ireland who went close early on. They tackled Scottish winger Scott McLeod in his own territory and forced him to give away a penalty. Moments later, their centre Mark Roche went close to the try line, but Scotland defended well.
Scotland did get themselves into things and quick hands set Hawick’s McLeod on a good run up the left wing. He lost the ball in the tackle, but the pace with which the Scots attacked was encouraging.
A penalty by Heriot’s scrum-half Graham Wilson in the tenth minute put Scotland 3-0 up. The penalty had been won following a good forward drive, which will have given the pack a boost.
Ten minutes later, with a quarter of the match gone, Ireland got themselves on the scoreboard. After a period of pressure, No 8 Jonathan Slattery took a quick tap and went over from five metres out. Stand-off Darragh Lyons converted.
The best move of the first half led to Scotland scoring a try of their own in the 29th minute. Wilson fed centre Liam Steele, who, in turn, passed to full-back Fraser Thomson. The Melrose man then fed McLeod in space and he chipped over his opposite man, forcing the Irish defender to take the ball over his own line. From the resultant five metre scrum, Currie No 8 Ross Weston barged his way over the line. Wilson converted and it was 10-7. Before the break Ireland scored eight points to go 15-10 to the good.
After a second Lyons penalty they scored a superb unconverted try by Roche. He went over on the left after a great break by back-row Paul Pritchard and then good handling by hooker Andrew O’Driscoll and captain Matt D’Arcy.
Scotland got off to a flying start after the break and a good run by Weston won them a kickable penalty in the 42nd minute. Wilson made sure with the penalty and they were just two points behind.
The match then entered quite a cagey spell and, with 20 minutes remaining, it was still 15-13 to the Irish.
Wilson then put a great kick into Ireland’s territory and, soon after a lineout and a scrum, Pritchard was penalised on his own ‘22’ metre line. He was yellow-carded and Wilson rubbed salt into the wounds by kicking the resultant penalty and the hosts were 16-15 up.
Six minutes later, the teams were level at 14 men each when Thomson was sin-binned and Lyons’ penalty put Ireland ahead again.
Then came the moment of the match from a Scottish perspective with Hill’s converted try.
Late on, Ireland had replacement Stephen Murphy yellow-carded and Scotland held on for the win.
Scorers: Scotland Club XV – Tries: Weston, Hill. Pens: Wilson (3). Cons: Wilson (2). Ireland Club XV – Tries: Slattery, Roche. Pens: Lyons (2). Con: Lyons.
Scotland Club XV: F Thomson; C Gossman, L Steele, R Curle, S McLeod; S Edwards, G Wilson; N Beavon, R Anderson, S Cessford, R Nimmo, I Moody, J Hill, R Weston, W Bordill. Subs used: F Scott, E McQuillin, T Spinks, G Graham, C Auld.
Ireland Club XV: D Riordan; S O’Neill, M Roche, M D’Arcy, E O’Keeffe; D Lyons, N Cronin; I Prendiville, A O’Driscoll, D Lavery, S Gardner, F Walsh, S Mulholland, J Slattery, P Pritchard. Subs used: E Rossiter, G Sweeney, P O’Shea, S Walsh, K O’Gorman, A Lloyd, S Murphy, K McGrath.
Referee: R Thomas.