Scotland learn little from win
August 6, 2011
Sean Lamont impressed throughout for Scotland constantly causing Ireland difficulties in defence © Getty Images
The pressure was on Scotland more than Ireland prior to their clash at Murrayfield with the Scots opting to have just two warm-up Tests before the forthcoming World Cup.
And Andy Robinson will probably be none the wiser after witnessing an error-strewn performance from his charges. However, he will take solace and indeed a certain amount of encouragement from their never say die attitude which eventually paid dividends through Joe Ansbro's first try for the national side in the dying seconds of the game to give them a 10-6 win.
Both sides played the game on the front-foot and it was resolute Irish defending which prevented the Scots from crossing the line early on. Nikki Walker and Sean Lamont benefitted from the accurate passing of Rory Lawson. However, despite Ruaridh Jackson trying to ignite the backs, there were moments when a simple pass inside rather than opting for the miss-pass would have proved to be more effective for the hosts.
Walker's injury proved to take the wind out of Scotland's sails to an extent but it was Ireland's play at the breakdown which blunted Scotland's ability to get effective second phase ball. Ireland - utilising Leinster and Munster's method of not letting the attacker go to the ground - meant Scotland had to resort to good old fashioned brute force to try and break down the Irish defence rather than a move off the training ground.
Under the veil of a 'warm-up' Test - Scotland tried to play the game with an intensity associated with Test matches though you could not help but feel they were a team of individuals rather than a collective unit. With only a further 80 minutes available for their charges to impress Robinson, there were occasions when players went for personal glory rather than looking for the sensible pass. Scotland's inability to stay on each other's shoulders did not help their cause.
Ireland on the other hand tried to play an effective counter-attacking brand of rugby but Scotland in return made themselves felt in defence. While Scotland opted in the first-half to kick for touch instead of opting to take kickable penalties, Ireland turned to Leinster's Jonathan Sexton to put them out in front at the break.
Ross Rennie performed well in his first start in a Scottish jersey proving to be a nuisance around the breakdown area in a Heinrich Brussow manner, while Irish debutant Mike McCarthy was solid in the back-row. Replacement Jack Cuthbert, who came on for Walker, tried to make an impact but rarely got a chance to showcase his skills. However, it was prop Geoff Cross who took the plaudits for the home side with the Edinburgh front row a rock in the scrum.
And it was on one of the limited occasions when Scotland managed to spread the ball wide that it paid dividends. Ansbro's try was straight off the training paddock and you could feel the relief around Murrayfield as the centre scampered over the try-line. We are left to ponder whether Scotland would have done this on other occasions throughout the match if they had the opportunity to as their lineout and general handling prevented them from doing so.
Out of the two coaches you can imagine that both Robinson and Kidney will be happy - but whether Robinson is any closer to windling his squad down to the final 30 remains to be seen. Kidney, however, will be pleased with the performance of his second-string pack. Scrum-half Tomas O'Leary looked lively in his comeback match and their set-piece was relatively solid.
Expect a different Scotland line-up when they face Italy in a fortnight as Robinson is sure to bring back a few of his first-choice chargers in the pack and Dan Parks is likely to pull the reins from ten. With Ireland facing a further three official Tests and one unofficial run out, the greater pressure is very much on Robinson's Scotland to perform in their next outing.
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