Fitzpatrick seals thrilling Irish victory

Scotland 22 Ireland 24
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The Independent Online

A second try of the match 35 seconds from time by their substitute, Karl Fitzpatrick, gave Ireland a thrilling victory in a dramatic European Nations Cup match at Old Anniesland in Glasgow.

Scotland were within sight of what would have been a well earned win when they were guilty of over-elaborating near the Irish try-line. Lee Penny fumbled and Paul Handforth picked up the lost ball to race away and turn defence into attack.

With the Scots stretched, David Bates got his pass away and Fitzpatrick got over to tie the scores and then kicked the conversion that won it just before the final hooter.

"I've learnt from coaching at Leeds that it's never over until it's over," the Irish coach, Daryl Powell, said. "I sent out a message that if we got the ball again we'd have a real dig at it and fortunately we did."

His Scottish counterpart, Billy McGinty, was understandably downcast by the late reversal of fortunes. "We were playing catch-up rugby in the last minute of the game when we were in front," he said.

Scotland had shown the benefits of their time together as a squad by controlling the early stages and leading 12-2 after 21 minutes with Penny, without a club for next season since being released by Warrington, twice going in for tries. Both were the result of clever handling through the middle by Andrew Henderson, and all Ireland could manage by way of keeping in the match was a penalty from Handforth.

The Irish came bustling back into contention when their captain, Phil Cantillon, went over after a dashing 60 yards with hands grasping at him in vain, and they were level before half-time when James King managed to force his way over in the corner.

Ireland took the lead for the first time when Fitzpatrick scored his first, latching onto Neil Roden's backhanded flick after 51 minutes with his first touch of the game and also adding the goal.

Despite that, Scotland continued to look the smoother operation and drew level three minutes later. Joe Berry, the outstanding Henderson and Duffy linked up in the slickest of handling moves for Danny Arnold to go over and Duffy to kick his third goal.

The Scots seemed to be on their way to victory when Henderson and Berry were again involved in setting up Jason Roach in the opposite corner but Duffy could not land the goal and Scotland somehow allowed the initiative to slip away from them before Fitzpatrick provided the dramatic climax.

SCOTLAND: Penny (Warrington), Roach (Swinton), Reed (Gateshead), Solomon (Doncaster), Arnold (Salford), Duffy (Leigh), Henderson (Barrow), Berry (Batley), McConnell (London), McDonald (Leeds), Morrison (Huddersfield), Knox (Swinton), Wilkes (Keighley). Substitutes: Graham (Featherstone), Miller (Whitehaven), Tunstall (Workington), Howieson (Sheffield).

IRELAND: Cummins (Leeds), Smyth (Warrington), Doran (Oldham), Stewart (St Helens), Gaskell (Warrington), Handforth (Wakefield), Roden (Oldham), Marshall (London), Cantillon (Widnes), Slicker (Huddersfield), Farrell (Oldham), King (Barrow), Gallagher (Leeds). Substitutes: Fitzpatrick (Salford), Maye (St Helens), Bates (Gateshead), McLoughlin (Oldham).

Referee: T Alibert (France).