SCOTLAND’S Club XV needed only a four-point win to claim the Dalriada Cup at Netherdale last night, and despite a second-half wobble they made it with something to spare. The Irish Club XV had won the first leg 26-23 a fortnight ago to give themselves hopes of regaining the trophy, but even when they hit back after the break they were never closer than seven points to their hosts.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Scotland coach Robert Chrystie said after the match. “They put a lot of effort into the game. They lost their way for a spell in the second half, but we got there.”
The very early pressure came from Ireland, but the Scots were soon deep in the Irish half with a succession of driving ploys, and, after stealing an Irish scrum, were awarded a penalty which Craig Jackson goaled to give them an eighth-minute lead. More pressure from the home team followed, but Ireland weathered the storm and were just denied a try when Neil Cronin was halted after a break by Niall Kenneally.
Jackson extended Scotland’s lead with a second penalty in 22 minutes after Matt D’Arcy had been yellow-carded, and Chrystie’s side then took advantage of the extra man when a break by Craig Gossman led to a series of attacks which ended in Shawn Muir being driven over for an unconverted try.
Steven Longwell got Scotland’s second try, and this time Jackson was successful with the two extra points. The one-way traffic continued to flow as half-time approached, and Jamie Forbes, on for Charlie Shiel, set set up a launchpad for Russell Anderson to add a third try. Forbes was wide of the mark with the conversion to leave the score at 23-0 at the break.
Ireland come back
The game turned around after the interval when two quick tries from Kenneally and Dan McEvoy, both converted by Cronin, cut the deficit to just nine points at 23-14 and then Cronin dropped the ball with the line at his mercy. Ireland were made to pay when Fraser Thomson sent Craig Gossman over for the try for a 28-14 lead.
Ireland refused to give in and replacement hooker Patrick Finlay scored and Jamie Gavin converted. But Thomson sealed the game a try from Gossman’s pass, and Gossman converted.
The visitors had the final word in the final minute, scoring in the final minute through Finlay after both Gossman and Struan Cessford had been sin-binned.
Scotland: F Thomson (Melrose); J Edmunds (Boroughmuir), R Curle (Stirling), G Taylor (Melrose), C Gossman (Ayr); C Jackson (Melrose), C Shiel (Currie Chieftains); S Muir (Hawick), R Anderson (Melrose), S Longwell (Ayr), I Moody (Melrose), R McAlpine (Ayr), B MacPherson (Ayr), T Gordon (Currie Chieftains), J Turley (Heriot’s). Substitutes: J Matthews (Boroughmuir), N Beavon (Melrose), S Cessford (Heriot’s), H Bain (Currie Chieftains), R Leishman (Stirling County), M McAndrew (Melrose), J Forbes, R Nelson (both Currie Chieftains).
Ireland: E Mills; H Brennan, N Kenneally, M D’Arcy, D McEvoy; J Gavin, N Cronin; C Glesson, R Smyth, C Skehan, B Reilly, A Thompson, M Melia, J Dwan, M Noone. Substitutes: P Finlay, T O’Reilly, J Kendrik, J McSwiney, P Tolofua, A Lloyd, M O’Neil, F Higgins.
Scorers: Scotland: Tries: Muir, Longwell, Anderson, Gossman, Thomson. Cons: Jackson, Forbes. Pens: Jackson 2.
Ireland: Tries: Kenneally, McEvoy, Finlay 2. Cons: Cronin 2, Gavin.
Scoring sequence: 3-0, 6-0, 11-0, 16-0, 18-0, 23-0 half-time, 23-5, 23-7, 23-12, 23-14, 28-14, 28-19, 28-21, 33-21, 35-21, 35-26.
Yellow cards: Scotland: Gossman, Cessford. Ireland: Darcy.
Referee: R Price (Wales).