By Derek Murdoch, Date:12/8/13
Scotland “A” opened their Community Game Four Nations campaign with a deserved victory over Ireland “A” at Sunnyside.
New coach Anthony Murray selected a side drawn entirely from Scottish clubs â€“ with five players from Ayrshire Storm, four from Edinburgh Eagles, three from Easterhouse Panthers and one from champions Aberdeen Warriors starting â€“ and was rewarded with a performance that underlined the improving strength of the club game in Scotland.
Scotland opened the scoring inside two minutes when an intelligent chase of their opening-set punt saw the Irish receiver tackled in the in-goal, and scrum-half Louis Senter crossed on the resulting set to give fellow half-back Ross Bryan a routine conversion.
Centre Richard Kealley almost broke clear for Ireland on their opening drive, but it was the home side who extended their lead in somewhat bizarre fashion. Senter’s fifth-tackle kick toward winger Stuart Bailey was swatted clear in the nick of time by an Irish defender, but only as far as centre Chad McGlame, who duly claimed the touchdown. Ross Bryan converted again to put Scotland 12 points up in as many minutes.
Ireland forced numerous good attacking positions after this as they sought to hit back, but were thwarted by a combination of good Scottish defence and poor execution on their part.
Scotland then reaped the reward for their hard work when Chad McGlame scored his second of the afternoon on the right after Kealley’s pass had been intercepted, and winger James Bird repeated the trick shortly afterwards, running onto a pass from Aaron Robertson after the visitors had once again turned over the ball. The latter try was converted by Ross Bryan to take the score to 22-0 in Scotland’s favour just before the half hour.
Ireland finally got on the board on 33 minutes, when they forced a penalty in midfield and worked the ball to winger Michael Crabtree, who scored the first of a hat trick on the resulting set. Scrum-half James Kelly converted to bring the visitors back to 22-6.
There was no further scoring in the first half, but there was drama on the stroke of half time when Ireland hooker Wayne Kelly received a yellow card for over-enthusiastically contesting the ball as his side sought to capitalise on a good attacking position deep in the Scotland half.
The drama continued at the start of the second half when Kelly’s fellow front row forward Kenny Calladiny thought he had reduced the deficit with an early try, only to be ruled guilty of a double movement. Insult was then added to injury for Ireland on the resulting set, when full back Kyle Matheson’s enterprising run set the platform for Stuart Bailey to score in the corner on a kick play.
Ireland did score the try they had threatened just before the end of the sin-bin period when the hosts knocked the kick-off on, and then committed another on the resulting set as they tried to retrieve the situation. Perhaps fittingly, it was Calladiny who applied the finishing touch from the resulting scrum to get his team into double figures.
Scotland hit back on their next possession however, when a fine attacking kick found touch deep in the Ireland half and from the resulting scrum Ayrshire Storm captain Gene Munro forced his way over under the Irish posts.
Shortly afterwards, Stuart Bailey had a potential second try of the match disallowed in the corner, but a sliced kick play in midfield from the resulting penalty by Ireland fly-half Alan Benny created another opportunity, and Bailey made sure there was nothing wrong with his subsequent effort. Ross Bryan converted both tries to put Scotland 38-10 up on the hour.
Ireland hit back with two tries of their own in the next ten minutes as they threw caution to the wind, with first Crabtree notching his second of the afternoon on the right, before centre Sean Cody crowned a patient spell of try line pressure of the kind that has become a hallmark of Irish rugby with a try of his own on the opposite flank. James Kelly added both conversions to reduce the arrears to 38-22.
Winger Alex Foster almost raised the possibility of a grandstand finish when he finished off a nice Irish handling move on the left with five minutes to go, only for the referee to rule a forward pass. Instead, Scotland saw out the game with relatively few alarms until Crabtree beat Senter to the ball on a kick play in injury time to complete his hat trick.
Next up for Scotland is a trip to Wales on Saturday 24th August, while Ireland are due to finish their campaign in England on Friday 23rd August. Scotland also conclude their campaign in England on Sunday 15th September.
SCOTLAND “A” — K Matheson; J Bird, L Soro, C McGlame, S Bailey; R Bryan,
L Senter; G Munro, G Walker, C Jarvis, D Simm, A Robertson, R Festorazzi. Interchange: D Barber, T Murray, R Vuniwai, S Gray.
IRELAND “A” — A Brace; M Crabtree, R Kealley, S Cody, A Foster; A Benny,
J Kelly; B Rowley, W Kelly, K Calladiny, L Vaipulu, G Crawford, M Hadden. Interchange: G Arthur, M Russell, L Dalton, S Hogan.