Wolfhounds collect first points in Edinburgh
Ireland pulled off a fine win in Edinburgh thanks to a dominant first half which saw them post four tries all down the right - two to Tim Bergin and two to veteran Stuart Littler – to take a commanding 22-0 lead at the break.
And when Callum Casey scored three minutes into the second-half, it presented Scotland with an insurmountable challenge although the Bravehearts lived up to their name, fighting to the last.
Rain drove in for an hour before kick off, which cut up the Meggetland pitch by the end of the warm-ups, the Scottish capital staging a rugby league international for the first time.
Scotland coach Dave Rotheram, taking the team for Head Coach Steve McCormack, handed debuts to four youngsters: Leeds hooker Liam Hood, 20, teenage Wigan wide-man Shae Lyon-Fraser, and 21 year old twins Jonathan and Adam Walker off the replacement bench.
It was a far stronger Scotland side than that which beat Ireland in Glasgow last year, but still included seven players aged 22 or under.
Ireland, too, were more experienced, with Warrington Wolves loose forward Tyrone McCarthy the stand-out name while coach Mark Aston gave debuts to six players and caps to John O’Donnell and James Mendeika, who both played in the non-capped game against England Knights.
The opening was cagey but once Ireland found a way through they dominated. On 14 minutes, Bergin touched down inside the flag before going off to have a head wound stitched.
By the time he returned, Littler had doubled Ireland’s lead. Bergin then scored again, swiftly followed by Littler once more as Liam Finn and James Meneika targeted Scotland’s left side of defence.
“Credit to the players,” said coach Mark Aston. “They found a weakness and shot it to pieces.” Finn’s three goals extended the lead, as Ireland camped in Scotland’s half and the Bravehearts failed to complete their sets.
The home side needed to score first after the break but when Casey raced in to make it 26-0 and Finn goaled, it appeared to be a matter of how many Ireland would score, their only further points, however, being a Finn penalty after the hosts had threatened a comeback.
Scotland fought back well, reversing the pattern of the first half with continued possession in Ireland’s half, mostly as a result of some fine forward play.
That pressure brought three tries: the lively Ben Fisher got a touch to his own grubber kick after it was fumbled; Mitch Stringer capped an excellent display with a try just after the hour and substitute Callum Cockburn touched down Fisher’s bomb and David Scott kicked his third conversion to make it 18-30.
But there were only six minutes left and Ireland held out for an impressive victory.
Ireland Wolfhounds 30 defeated
Tries: tIM Bergin 2, Stuart Littler 2, Casey.
Goals: Liam Finn 5 from 6
Team: Gregg McNally, Tim Bergin, Stuart Littler, Joshua O’Toole, John O’Donnell, James Mendeika, Liam Finn, Sean Hesketh, Carl Sice, Luke Ambler, Elliot Cosgrove, Callum Casey, Tyrone McCarthy, Colton Roche, Sam Wellens, Matty Hadden, Tom McKeown
Scotland Bravehearts 18
Tries: Ben Fisher, Mitchell Stringer, Callum Cockburn
Goals: David Scott 3 from 3
Team: Brett Carter, Alex Hurst, Shae Lyon-Fraser, Josh Barlow, David Scott, Lee Paterson, Liam Hood, Paul Jackson, Andrew Henderson, Mitchell Stringer, Sam Barlow, Dale Ferguson, Alex Szostak, Ben Fisher, Adam Walker, Jonathan Walker, Callum Cockburn