Scotland 31 Ireland 21
Scotland ended their dismal losing sequence against Ireland at Murrayfield.
The home side had been defeated by the Irish in their seven previous encounters but, with coach Frank Hadden fielding virtually a full-strength team, they were sharper and more enthusiastic in the World Cup warm-up match.
Ally Hogg, Euan Murray and Andrew Henderson – with a hat-trick – touched down for the Scots while Isaac Boss and Andrew Trimble replied for Ireland.
Eddie O’Sullivan’s men improved dramatically in the second half but it was in vain as the busy Brian Carney probably edged Tommy Bowe in the battle for the final winger’s spot for the World Cup.
Scotland made the perfect start when, after the forwards retained the ball through several phases of possession, Hogg touched down from close range in the fourth minute.
Chris Paterson, winning his 75th cap in his favoured stand-off role, landed the conversion to give Hadden’s side a 7-0 lead but Paddy Wallace reduced the deficit by three points with a 10th-minute penalty.
Scotland remained in the ascendancy, though, and such was their early confidence that captain Jason White – back in the team after nine months out with a knee injury – rejected the opportunity of taking two very kickable penalties as he sought a second try.
Ireland held firm until the 24th minute when centre Henderson muscled his way over for his sixth international try, Paterson adding a straightforward conversion to make it 14-3.
Scotland continued to press for a third try before the break and it was prop Murray who rewarded the home side for their dominance with his second try for his country on 38 minutes to leave the score 19-6 at half-time.
Scotland’s superiority continued after the break when, six minutes into the half, Henderson fell over the line in the corner for his side’s fourth try – and another created by first-class work from the pack.
Ireland replied within two minutes though, Bowe making the initial break before the ball reached Boss who eluded both Sean and Rory Lamont to score his team’s first try of the afternoon.
Suddenly Ireland were a different outfit and Trimble touched down in the 55th minute thanks to a huge overlap before Wallace added a penalty to make it 24-21 at the midway point in the half.
A flurry of substitutions on both sides almost inevitably caused the game to become more fractured but, six minutes from the end, Henderson latched on to a half break from Dan Parks to crash over for his third try.
Paterson added the conversion to leave the score 31-21 and make the game finally safe for the home side as they ended their woeful recent run against the Irish.