The game was in many ways a victory for rugby league development. Both teams featured five debut-makers in their starting XIIIs, with three more on the bench, and both had seven players who had learned the game in their domestic rugby league competition. This was the clearly an opportunity for Scotland coach Steve McCormack and Ireland’s new boss Mark Aston to look at the young talent coming through, so they know who will be able to cope with the far more intense and demanding environments of the European Cup and World Cup in the next two years.
Scotland took the lead after three minutes when one of those debutants, Alex Hurst, touched down a kick through by man of the match John Duffy, and converted his own try. The Irish, well led by scrum-half Liam Finn, levelled on 19 minutes, Finn scoring from half-back partner Paul Handforth’s inside pass on the right wing and then kicking the goal himself.
Scotland retook the lead on 25 minutes and never relinquished it: Hull FC’s Crawford Matthews, another teenage debutant, drove over by the right corner flag to make it 10-6. Hurst missed the conversion from the touchline. Scrum-half John Duffy was catching the eye with some fine darts and bursts through the Irish defensive line, while Andrew Henderson used his experience to control the ruck area.
Ireland came back into the game before half-time but were unable to turn possession into points and ninety seconds after the restart they were further behind when Paddy Coupar raced from the halfway line to score under the posts. Incredibly, Hurst missed the conversion and handed over kicking duties to Scott, who got his first try for Scotland on 62 minutes flying over on the left after Lee Paterson orchestrated a great team move from right to left.
Scott missed his conversion attempt and Paterson missed with a shot at a drop goal on 73 minutes as Scotland aimed to seal victory. But a penalty for stripping against Finn on the impressive Sam Barlow allowed Scott to kick Scotland into a 20-6 lead. Then came his last minute cope de grace, the former Easterhouse Panther racing down the left touchline to score his second try. He even kicked the goal with the last action of the match to complete a 26-6 victory.
SCOTLAND: Alex Hurst, Crawford Matthews, Josh Barlow, Dave Arnot, David Scott, Lee Parterson, John Duffy, Jack Stearman, Andrew Henderson, Neil Lowe, Sam Barlow, Paddy Coupar, Alex Szostak. Subs: Jack Howieson, Callum Cockburn, Mike Stewart, Giles Lomax.
Tries: Hurst (4), Matthews (25), Coupar (42), Scott (62,39).
Goals: Hurst, Scott 2.
Subs: Sean Carmody, Paddy Barcoe, Callum Casey, Aaron McCloskey.
Tries: Finn (10)
Goals: Finn 1.
Referee: Steve Ganson (England)