Scotland Club XV23
Ireland Club XV18
Scotland produced a spectacular finish – a 70m try from flanker Jason Hill – to deny Ireland victory in the Club International match, switched from Old Anniesland to the heated pitch at Netherdale last Friday evening.
The Scots were trailing 16-18 going into the final 10 minutes, when Hill collected the ball deep inside the Scotland half before setting off at pace on a defence-splitting run that ended with a try under the posts.
The score earned Hill the man-of-the-match award, but in truth the Heriot’s and former Stirling back row was just one of a number of Scotland players to post impressive performances.
Arguably, the player who made the biggest impact was replacement prop Ewan McQuillin.
The former Gala front row man, now with Melrose, steadied what had been a creaking scrum in the first half and in doing so helped the Scots to victory.
Another player to impress was former Kelso man Iain Moody, who showed mobility, good hands and strong defence in addition to shouldering the responsibility of calling the line-outs.
Moody’s pace helped Scotland generate momentum throughout the game, but for much of the match the backs were made to look second best against a more accomplished Ireland back division, and it was no surprise that Ireland deservedly led 15-10 at the break.
Ireland looked the more likely winners early in the game, but their momentum was undoubtedly checked by yellow cards shown to flanker Paul Pritchard and replacement back row Kieran O’Gorman, albeit Scotland also had a tenant in the sin-bin when Fraser Thomson was yellow-carded.
Ireland were certainly the better side in the first half and fully deserved their 15-10 interval advantage, from tries by number 8 Jon Slattery after a quick tap-and-go free kick, and centre Mark Roche after the impressive Pritchard had broken the Scots defence. The other points came from a conversion and penalty by Darragh Lyon.
Head coach Phil Smith said: “The eight points we leaked before half-time didn’t help, but we kept faith. To come back into the game in the second half showed great character.”
Scotland had scored a first-half try by No. 8 Ross Weston from close range, and the conversion and a penalty by scrum half Graham Wilson, and they looked more purposeful in the second half, earning two penalty goals from Wilson.
A penalty by Lyons restored the lead for Ireland, only for Scotland to produce that spectacular winning score, Hill collecting the ball deep in the Scotland half before running through a non-engaging Ireland defence for a try under the posts, leaving Wilson with a simple conversion to seal the match.
Scotland: F. Thomson (Melrose), C. Gossman (Ayr), L. Steele (Heriot’s), R. Curle (Ayr), S. McLeod (Hawick), S. Edwards (Heriot’s), G. Wilson (Heriot’s), N. Beavon (Melrose), R. Anderson (Gala), S. Cessford (Heriot’s), R. Nimmo (Heriot’s), I. Moody (Boroughmuir), J. Hill (Heriot’s), W. Bordill (Ayr), R. Weston (Currie). Subs used: F. Scott (Ayr), E. McQuillin (Melrose), P. Eccles (Melrose), T. Spinks (Glasgow Hawks), G. Graham (Gala).