Rugby Union: Morrison makes all the right back-row moves

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Scotland A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

Ireland A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

IAIN MORRISON, injured for much of the season, burst back into Five Nations' Championship contention for Scotland with an outstanding performance in the win over Ireland yesterday after the A-team international had been switched to Ayr from frost-bound Glasgow.

Morrison, who underwent a second knee operation three matches into the season and restarted only a month ago, was the heart of a magnificent back-row effort made all the more heroic beacause of scrummaging problems.

Morrison even contributed one of Scotland's three tries. Others came from Rob Wainwright and Shade Munro and the margin could have been much wider had Gregor Townsend not missed five penalty attempts and Kenny Logan two.

By contrast, Alan McGowan kicked three out of three for an Irish side devoid of inspiration save, perhaps, Peter Clohessy. Just back after a 10-week suspension, the prop gave Alan Sharp a most uncomfortable afternoon.

David Johnson, the Scotland A coach, said: 'We were reasonably solid and it was particularly good to see backs and forwards linking so well. It is to our credit we made Ireland look an ordinary side.' Arthur Hastie, the manager, added: 'I have to pick out Morrison. For a guy who has had very little rugby he was outstanding. It was nice to see backs handling and three good tries scored. What more could we ask?'

Three early penalty goals from McGowan were insufficient to cancel out converted tries from Morrison and then Wainwright which gave Scotland a 14-9 lead at the interval.

Within two minutes of the restart, Logan was twice in a flowing move which ended with Munro charging over from third-phase possession.

Scotland never looked back although the game died as a spectacle in the closing stages with every scrum taking an age to settle on a churned-up surface.

Scotland A: Tries Morrison, Wainwright, Munro; Conversions Townsend 3; Penalty Townsend. Ireland A: Penalties McGowan 3.

SCOTLAND A: K Logan (Stirling Co); K Milligan (Stewart's Melville FP), S Nichol (Selkirk), I Jardine (Stirling Co), D Stark (Boroughmuir); G Townsend (Gala), A Nicol (Dundee HSFP); A Sharp (Bristol), K McKenzie (Stirling Co, capt), P Wright (Boroughmuir), S Munro (Glasgow HSFP / Kelvinside), G Weir (Melrose), P Walton (Northampton), R Wainwright (Edinburgh Academicals), I Morrison (London Scottish).

IRELAND A: C Clarke (Terenure Coll); S Geoghegan, D Dooley (London Irish), M McCall (Bangor), N Woods; A McGowan (Blackrock College), N Hogan (Terenure Coll, capt); H Hurley (Old Wesley), K Wood (Garryowen), P Clohessy (Young Munster), D Tweed (Ballymena), B Rigney (Greystones), E Halvey (Shannon), P Lawlor (Bective Rangers), L Toland (Old Crescent).

Referee: D Davies (Wales).