Ireland Club XV 22
Scotland Club XV 17
CAPTAIN Fergus Scott says he is confident the Scotland Club XV programme can go to strength after an encouraging performance in Dublin failed to secure a win against their Irish counterparts, but did demonstrate that there remains enough ability in the Premiership post the removal of Super6 players to be competitive at this level.
The team lost their Dalriada Cup first leg match at Netherdale last Friday 17-39, so this result represented a 17 point reduction in the difference between the two teams, and Scott believes that if his side had been slightly more clinical at key moments – which comes from experience – then they could have been returning home with a first Scottish win of this Six Nations window.
“I wouldn’t say we were pleased with the outcome because we have lost both legs, but I’m pretty encouraged that if we can keep the nucleus of this squad together next season, and keep working hard to make the Premiership as strong a league as it possibly can be, then there is no reason why we can’t claim the Dalriada Cup back next season,” said Scott.
“We’re gutted that we didn’t get more out if this game because we had a lot of territory and possession, but credit to Ireland because they made the most of their chances,” he added. “I’m really proud of the attitude the boys showed over the two games, and now that the new faces in the team have had a taste of it they know the level of intensity, discipline and accuracy required to be really competitive at this level.
“I think a lot of people wrote us off beforehand because so many of the top club players have gone to Super6, and I think we have proven that there is still a lot of quality in the Premiership. Our results in these two matches have not bee too dissimilar to what has been achieved in previous years, and with a really tight group of players it has been a great experience for all of us.
“Guys like Shawn Muir and Paddy Boyer, who have played for the Club XV before, spoke afterwards about there being a special vibe with this group. It feels like a proper Club XV, with people very passionate and emotional about getting their cap.”
The Scots fell behind on Friday night through a try from winger Colm Hogan, but bounced back to when Callum Young made good ground the sent scrum-half Gregor Christie in for the try, with Aaron McColm adding the touchline conversion.
The half finished with the home side on top thanks to a Michael Melia try and James Taylor conversion, but the Scots weren’t;t finished yet, and they wasted little time at the start of the second getting back into the game with a McColm penalty (for an offside which also saw home playmaker Pa Ryan sent to the sin-bin) narrowing the gap to just two points.
No sooner had Ryan returned to the fray than Scottish No 8 Ewan MacDougall was off to the naughty step, when French referee Tual Trainini lost patience with Scotland’s repeated infringements, and Ireland took immediate advantage through a Taylor penalty and a converted Sam Coghlan try.
Scotland head coach Scott Wight cleared his bench with about 10 minutes to go, and it had the desired effect when substitute prop Willian Farquar popped the ball to fellow replacement Rhys Davies for a try which was converted by Colin Sturgeon.
Scotland spent the last few minutes pushing hard for a match-winning score and Scott Bickerstaff almost escaped down the wing but couldn’t quite get clear.
The aggregate score for the Dalriada Cup over both legs was 61-34 in Ireland’s favour, but Wight shared his captain’s positivity about the whole experience.
“You can’t fault the effort tonight, they worked tirelessly, they worked right to the 80 minutes,” he said afterwards. “We had a chance, the opportunity was there right at the end when we had all the momentum, huge credit to them. It puts Scottish club rugby on the map, they stepped up to the challenge, it’s been a hugely positive two performances.”
Scotland: G Mollison; S BickerstafF, A Mitchell (S Hamilton 70), C Bickerstaff, C Young; A McColm (C Sturgeon 48), G Christie (P Boyer 49); S Muir (W Farquhar 70), F Scott (M Carryer 70), G Strain (C Henderson 49), M Vernel (R Cessford 45), G Law, N Coe (R Davies 49), W Nelson, E MacDougall.
Ireland: J Heuston; C Hogan, P Ryan, B Fitzgerald, M Byrne; J Taylor, A Hehir; C Maguire, M Abbott, A Keating, B Hayes, A Kennedy, M Melia, J Foley, P Derham. Subs used: A Clarkin, C Bartley, C Barrett, P Claffey, R Murphy, G Hurley, G Lyons, S Coghlan Murray.
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Ireland: Tries: Hogan, Melia, Coghlan; Con: Taylor 2; Pen: Taylor.
Scotland: Tries: Christie, Davies; Con: McColm, Stugeon; Pen: McColm.
Scoring sequence (Ireland first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7; 10-7; 12-7 (h-t) 12-10; 15-10; 20-10; 22-10; 22-15; 22-17.
Yellow cards –