IRELAND’S second string began a new life with an old tag by chalking up a useful victory over a strong Scotland A side at Ravenhill last night.
The Wolfhounds may be noted for exhibition rugby in days of yore, but they showed plenty of dog against a vastly-experienced visiting outfit, particularly in the first half.
Gavin Duffy was very impressive at full-back with the trio of Shane Jennings, Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy a magnificent back-row unit, while Fergus McFadden showed up well in midfield and picking up a couple of tries for good measure.
The Irish front row had troubles in the tight, with Marcus Horan exchanging pleasantries with British and Irish Lion Euan Murray throughout the game, the Scottish tight-head shading the issue and the Irishman collecting a yellow card at the death following another wayward scrum.
With five minutes gone, and just as a brightly-glowing meteorite’s trajectory took it over Ravenhill, the Wolfhounds conjured up a sparkling opening score.
Tony Buckley made up for an earlier spill to bludgeon his way upfield, with Jennings finding Darren Cave who subsequently gave skipper Henry a run-in to the line.
Humphreys, who along with Duffy showed early enterprise, banged over the conversion and then tagged on a 35-metre penalty for good measure 10 minutes later.
It was a positive opening quarter for the Irish and showed their keenness to keep ball in hand with Humphreys, Cave and McFadden eager to run from deep with plenty of help from their supporting back-row.
And it was McFadden who was in thick of things to score the Wolfhounds’ second try. Devin Toner stole Scottish possession in midfield and as the ball whizzed across the backline, McFadden executed an exquisite inside pass to the onrushing Duffy, who repaid the kindness by given the inside centre a run-in to the line.
Humphreys added the extras and just flicked the wrong side of the upright with a snap drop goal on the stroke of half-time.
A punch by Toner earned him a spell in the sin-bin early in the second half, and the Irish immediately found themselves under extreme pressure.
Horan was having trouble at a seven-man scrum near his own line, and while he was querying the penalty against him, Scotland took a tap penalty and flanker Jim Eddie crashed in at the corner.
However, still with a man down, the Wolfhounds had plenty of bite, with Duffy fielding a high ball on his 10-metre line before sprinting 30 metres to release McFadden, who danced in for his second effort in the 56th minute.
Scotland grabbed a try in the 67th minute through replacement Mark Robertson, but the Irish bounced back immediately with Isaac Boss making a break off turnover ball before looping a pass to Johne Murphy, who supplied the return pass to the replacement scrum-half for his side’s fourth try.
Munster-bound Murphy did better even in injury time when he finished a flowing move in the right-hand corner.
Scorers for Ireland Wolfhounds: F McFadden 2 tries; C Henry, I Boss, J Murphy try each; I Humphreys 2 cons, pen.
Scotland A: J Eddie, M Robertson try each; Penalty try; R Jackson, Thompson con each.
IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS: G Duffy (Connacht); J Murphy (Leicester), D Cave (Ulster), F McFadden (Leinster), I Dowling (Munster); I Humphreys (Ulster), P Stringer (Munster); M Horan (Munster), S Cronin (Connacht), T Buckley (Munster); R Caldwell (Ulster), D Toner (Leinster), D Tuohy (Ulster), S Jennings (Leinster), C Henry (Ulster).
Replacements: N Brady (Ulster) for Cronin (64), M Ross (Leinster) for Buckley (64), E O’Donoghue (Ulster) for Toner (76), N Ronan (Munster) for Jennings (68), I Boss (Ulster) for Stringer (64), I Keatley (Connacht) for Humphreys (68), K Matthews (Connacht) for McFadden (57).
Yellow cards: Toner 45-55; Horan 80.
SCOTLAND A: J Thompson (Edinburgh); N Walker (Ospreys), B Cairns (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh), J Houston (Edinburgh); R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), M Blair (capt, Edinburgh); J Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), D Hall (Glasgow Warriors), E Murray (Northampton Saints); S MacLeod (Edinburgh), J Hamilton (Edinburgh); J Eddie (Glasgow Warriors), R Grant (Edinburgh), S Gray (Northampton Saints).
Replacements: A Kelly (Edinburgh) for Hall (66), K Traynor (Edinburgh) for Welsh (57), C Hamilton (Edinburgh) for MacLeod (57), F McKenzie (Edinburgh) for Jackson (74), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh) for Blair (57), R Dewey (Glasgow Warriors) for De Luca (68), M Robertson (Edinburgh) for Walker (63).
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (FFR).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved