Hurst (4), J. Barlow(25), Coupar (42), Scott (62,39)
Hurst 1/2, Scott 2/3
Scotland got the European Test series off to a winning start when they saw off Ireland 26-6 at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow. Two tries by Glaswegian teenage winger David Scott sealed the win, the last in the final minute, by which time Ireland’s challenge had faded and the Bravehearts got what they deserved.
The game was in many ways a victory for rugby league development. Both teams featured five debutants 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: Josh Barlow 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 Rugby League coach Steve McCormack was happy with the result: "I'm delighted with the victory and the performance. The blend of debutants and younger players with our senior players was excellent. We went out there as a team and that has been the case for years - it showed in the training camp and it showed today.
"David Scott will get the headlines and rightly so with that performance - he has enormous potential. It's testament to the work put in with the development team and player pathway we have created. The number of debutants we have brought through over the last couple of years and the performance they put on today makes a lot of people proud.
"Today is the start of something for these lads. We talked about our long term goals as a group this week and they all know the World Cup will come round soon. We used Paddy Coupar as an example to the young lads - he came in at a late stage and played in the World Cup and today was his eighth cap. But for the young lads to step into that environment today and play like that is superb."
Pictured: Alex Szostak hits it up into the Irish defence.
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
Greg McNally, James Haley, Ian Cross, Elliot Cosgrove, Joe Taylor, Paul Handforth, Liam Finn, Paddy Boyle, Bob Beswick, Kyle Amor, Lemeki Vunipulu, Ged Corcoran, Tyrone McCarthy. Subs: Sean Carmody, Paddy Barcoe, Callum Casey, Aaron McCloskey