It seemed Ireland’s dreams of a last four finish were shattered after Scotland’s defence kept Ireland at bay during six, frantic, injury-time minutes. But Ireland refused to panic and centre Eoin O’Malley found himself at the bottom of a mass of green shirts — credited with the match-winning try.
This last-gasp win now sees Ireland in with every chance of a place in the last four of the tournament with South Africa on Friday night up next.
Coach Charlie McAleese was relieved to come away with the win after a nerve-wracking injury-time period for the Ireland management.
“I’m delighted with the result,” said McAleese. “The way these lads dug in the last few minutes was incredible. I thought our control of the ball in the last five or six minutes was excellent. It would have been easy to panic.
“We had a lot of good decision-makers around the base of those rucks. I thought we were holding on too long but there’s a bit of luck involved too. We left it very, very late.”
Ireland chose to play into the swirling breeze that favoured Scotland in the first half, and the cohesion and spirit, apparent in their joust against Australia, shone through with the excellent work of Paul Ryan driving into opposition territory. A high tackle by Scotland gave Scott Deasy the opportunity of his first kick at goal. From just outside the 22 the PBC student judged it perfectly to hand Ireland an early lead.
Scotland’s indiscipline proved their downfall in these opening exchanges. They dominated territory for the next twenty minutes, but the prize for their efforts was merely a McColl penalty.
Ireland struggled to get out of their own half, while Scotland’s greater cohesion up front brought dividends in the final five minutes of the half. On the half hour mark, Ryan was penalised for not releasing and McColl landed a penalty in front of the sticks.
Indiscipline by Ireland saw Rajan Reilly penalised for failing to move away from a tackle and McColl tacked on his third to give the Scots a deserved 9-3 half time lead.
Ireland probed the Scotland defence inside the 22 early in the second half but the breakthrough never arrived. Instead Ireland had to contend themselves with a penalty near goal, which Deasy converted.
Scotland had their hooker Adrian Duncan sin-binned in the 49th minute but were unlucky not get a try in the 66th minute when a Deasy pass intended for Reilly was intercepted by Chris Kinloch. The Irish defence managed to swallow up the centre but he managed to offload to Tom Bury. But a superb last ditch tackle from Jamie Smyth five metres from the line saved Ireland’s blushes. And the game.
McColl stretched the Scots’ lead to six with his fourth penalty in the 64th minute
It made for an exciting finish. For six long minutes Ireland were camped inside the Scotland twenty two, but the visitors managed to repel a tide of Ireland drives mainly through the forwards. When Ireland did try to move it wide Scotland were also there in numbers to keep out the green shirts.
Twice Ireland drove over the line but were held up by the Scots. In one last effort, Ireland gave it their all, going over by the post with Eoin O’Malley credited with the try. Deasy had to convert from in front of the posts but he made no mistake.
A Craig (Instonians); N Morris (Blackrock College RFC), E O’Malley (UCD), C Cleary (St. Michael’s College), P Brophy (St. Michael’s College); S Deasy (PBC, Cork), H McAleese (Ballynahinch RFC); P Karayiannis (RBAI/Queens), S Douglas (Ballymena), M Nelson (Ballynahinch); B Cawley (UCD), I Nagle (Glenstal Abbey); K Essex (CBC, Cork/UCC), R Reilly (St. Michael’s College), P Ryan (capt) (Blackrock College RFC).
Replacements: P McCabe (Dublin University) for Nelson (inj 17); J Smith (Ballymena) for Cleary (ht)D Foley (U.L. Bohemians) for Cawley (42); P Mallon for Reilly (blood 47-49) and Reilly (60) J Harris-Wright for Essex (62);
M Allan; L Jones, C Kinloch, S McColl, T Bury; R Jackson, R Samson; G Stain, A Duncan, J Stafford; N Patrick, J Brown; F McKenzie (capt), K Bryce, A Wukovits.
Replacements: R McInally for Bryce (temp 52-62); C Simmonds for Patrick (65).
J Pritchard (Australia).
Other Section A results: France 17 South Africa 8; Wales 33 Samoa 20; New Zealand 107 Japan 6; Australia 23 Fiji 12; England 17 Argentina 15.