Scotland’s hopes of backing up their sensational home victory over England with a win on the road were dashed in the Dublin drizzle last night as Ireland ran out narrow winners. Stevie Scott’s much-improved Under-20s were in contention almost to the end, and were the more energetic side after the break, but a sluggish start proved too much to overcome.
Ireland took less than three minutes to go ahead with a Jack O’Sullivan try after Angus Curtis had burst all too easily through the defence. Harry Byrne added the conversion, then put his team into double figures three minutes later after Scotland were penalised for going offside. With 17 minutes played another Byrne penalty, again for offside, made it 13-0.
An intelligent break by winger Kyle Rowe midway through the first half was the first real attacking threat from Scotland, then a driving maul was halted illegally by Ireland on the edge of their 22, allowing Ross Thompson to open his team’s account. Captain Robbie Smith came close to adding a try from a charge up the left, but he was held up before Ireland offended again and Thompson doubled his tally.
It had taken Scotland a quarter of an hour to get that toehold in the game, but the good work was soon undone as Ireland scored their second try through Matthew Agnew.
That unconverted try was the last score of the half and Scotland were soon right back in the match after the break when Rowe scored from a chip and chase. Thomson missed the conversion, and again Ireland hit back quickly, with Matt Dalton powering over the line for their third try, again unconverted.
Scotland in turn replied almost immediately when Martin Hughes finished off from close range. Thompson added the two points and, as the final quarter began, Stevie Scott’s team were just five points behind.
The game stayed in the balance until, with six minutes to go, O’Sullivan burst through a tiring defence to grab his second try. Conor Dean converted, and Ireland had the bonus-point victory in the bag.
Nathan McBeth scored in stoppage time to give Scotland a bonus point for a narrow loss, with Thompson converting.