Wainwright towers over fumbling Irish

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The Independent Online
Ireland 10 Scotland 16

Try: Clohessy 40 Tries: McKenzie 12, Dods 22

Con: Elwood 40

Pen: Elwood 18 Pen: Dods 30

Drop: Townsend 40

NEW management, new coach, new captain, new optimism but, for Ireland, once again it was the same old story. For great expectations, read bleak house. Scotland, with a disciplined, sensible and committed performance, deservedly won an absorbing contest in appalling conditions in Dublin yesterday.

The visitors, who had been virtually written off on the basis of two anaemic displays against Western Samoa and Italy, had the benefit of playing with driving wind and rain at their backs in the first half. After absorbing early Irish pressure, the Scots steadily and cleverly established a convincing lead.

They opened the scoring after 12 minutes when scrum-half Bryan Redpath found a brilliant touch a yard from the Irish line. Although Gabriel Fulcher appeared to win the lineout, he could not establish full control and as the ball popped over the Ireland line, Kevin McKenzie, Scotland's dynamic hooker, dived on it for the try. It all stemmed from a scrum caused by a knock-on from Nick Popplewell. As the game progressed, Irish handling errors at crucial times became a recurring theme.

Ireland, on a rare excursion into Scottish territory, reduced the deficit with a penalty, beautifully struck from 35 yards by Eric Elwood. However, six minutes later Gregor Townsend nearly broke the Irish defence with a jink and a dummy but was grounded by David Corkery. From the ruck, Redpath, Rowen Shepherd and Ian Smith combined on the short side to send the left wing Michael Dods over for Scotland's second try.

It gave Scotland a 10-3 lead, which they increased in the 30th minute when Townsend chipped ahead and was impeded by Corkery's elbow. Townsend's chip was too strong to cause panic in the Irish defence but from the resultant penalty Dods made no mistake to increase Scotland's lead to 10 points.

On the stroke of half-time Townsend, who has given Scotland an extra attacking dimension, dropped a magnificent goal from about 45 yards after an initial strike from Scott Hastings.

It looked as if Scotland were to turn around with a 16-3 lead but in the final move of the first half Ireland, finally playing with the sort of passion that the crowd had been expecting, mounted a series of drives which resulted in a try for the prop Peter Clohessy. Neil Francis had initiated the offensive and Clohessy had also been involved. Despite taking a crashing tackle, he regained his feet and was on hand to take a scoring pass from Chris Saverimutto. Elwood converted and suddenly Ireland, trailing by only six points, must have been licking their lips at the prospect of playing with the huge advantage of the elements in their favour.

Instead Scotland, for whom the new captain Rob Wainwright was a towering figure in the back row, quashed the Irish uprising. Ireland could never maintain any control at the lineout, where Campbell, Weir and Peters performed heroics. Behind them Redpath and Townsend cleverly varied their game and Ireland were never sure what the Scottish half-backs would do.

When Peter Wright fell offside at a ruck after 52 minutes, Elwood made too much allowance for the wind and the ball drifted to the right of the post. That was the signal for a period of intense Scottish pressure which almost resulted in a try but Geoghegan beat Joiner in a race for Townsend's well-judged kick.

Scotland, fielding seven of their World Cup pack, continued to keep Ireland at bay until the dying minutes. Shepherd, who made an impressive debut in the seemingly impossible role of filling the boots of Gavin Hastings, was shown the yellow card by referee Brian Campsall for a trip on Elwood. The Irish stand-off got to his feet and again badly missed with the penalty attempt.

In a desperate attempt to pull the match out of the fire, Ireland established a foothold near the Scottish line and forced a series of scrums. On two occasions Scotland were penalised as Ireland went for the pushover try, but just when it seemed as if the Scots were in danger of conceding a penalty try, Campsall spotted an Irish hand on the ball at yet another scrum and Scotland were able to lift the siege.

Ireland: J Staples (Harlequins, capt); R Wallace (Garryowen), J Bell (Northampton), K McQuilkin (Bective Rangers), S Geoghegan (Bath); E Elwood (Lansdowne), C Saverimutto (Sale); N Popplewell (Newcastle), T Kingston (Dolphin), P Clohessy (Young Munster), G Fulcher (Cork Constitution), N Francis (Old Belvedere), J Davidson (Dungannon), P Johns (Dungannon), D Corkery (Cork Constitution).

Scotland: R Shepherd; C Joiner (both Melrose), S Hastings (Watsonians), I Jardine (Stirling County), M Dods; G Townsend (both Northampton), B Redpath (Melrose); D Hilton (Bath), K McKenzie (Stirling County), P Wright (Boroughmuir), S Campbell (Dundee High School FP), G Weir (Melrose), R Wainwright (Watsonians, capt), E Peters (Bath), I Smith (Gloucester).

Referee: B Campsall (England).