Spirited Scotland Club XV claim Dalriada Cup

Scotland Club XV retained the Dalriada Cup for the third consecutive occasion over their Irish counterparts in a gritty victory at Netherdale (35-26).

As the rain hammered down on Galashiels, the team’s spirit was not dampened as the side controlled the first-half, setting the high tempo and commanding possession – running in five tries and holding a 23-0 lead at the break.

Head Coach Rob Chrystie said: “I’m really pleased for the boys. They put a lot of effort and work into the game.

“I think we built and controlled the game really well. We lost that momentum in the second-half but it shows the mentality of the group to remain calm under pressure.

“When we did get those opportunities we were clinical in our execution.

“As a group, they have been outstanding to work with and they deserved the win tonight.”

The men in blue found their stride in the opening stages, as they piled on the pressure deep in the opposition’s 22 and enjoyed the bulk of the early possession

It wasn’t long until Scotland’s persistence was rewarded, as the hosts were first on the scoreboard following a penalty by fly-half Craig Jackson.

Mistakes proved costly for the Irish side in the first-half, as Ireland’s Matt D’Arcy was shown a yellow card. Scotland were subsequently awarded another penalty in front of the posts, which Jackson slotted.

Centre Ross Curle ignited the attack for his side’s first try, as he broke up the touchline before the ball found Shawn Muir who dived over the line.

The hosts continued to dominate proceedings and soon found themselves back on the scoreboard when prop Steven Longwell clambered his way over the whitewash.

Buoyed by the score, the home side strengthened their position in the game when the pack trundled over the opposition line from a well-worked driving maul, with Russell Anderson touching down.

HALF-TIME: Scotland Club XV 23 – 0 Ireland Club XV

The Irish outfit were quick off the mark in the second-half, as centre Niall Kenneally cantered down the touchline to score, to which Jamie Gavin duly converted.

With momentum building, the Irish proved that they were a force to be reckoned with when winger Dan McEvoy scampered down the wing to score in the corner.

Scotland quickly rallied and were back on the scoreboard, as some well-worked hands bought space for Gossman to make a break, before he floated the ball to skipper Thomson who displayed an enthralling turn of pace to score behind the posts.

Ireland’s retort was prompt, however, as hooker Paddy Finlay powered over the line on the back of a driving maul, meaning the visitors were back in contention.

As the game drew to a close, the hosts had to endure a last gasp attempt from the Irish, following two yellow cards for Gossman and Struan Cessford as a result of repeated infringements.

In the final minute, Finlay crashed down from close range to score his second try for Ireland, however, it wasn’t enough for the visitors and Scotland sealed the victory. 

FULL-TIME: Scotland Club XV 35 - 26 Ireland Club XV

Man of the Match: Russell Anderson

Attendance: 400

Referee: Robert Price (WRU)

Scotland Club XV: Fraser Thomson CAPTAIN (Melrose); Jordan Edmunds (Boroughmuir), Ross Curle (Stirling County), George Taylor (Melrose), Craig Gossman (Ayr); Craig Jackson (Melrose), Charlie Shiel (Currie Chieftains); Shawn Muir (Hawick), Russell Anderson (Melrose), Steven Longwell (Ayr), Iain Moody (Melrose), Robert McAlpine (Ayr), Blair MacPherson (Ayr), Thomas Gordon (Currie Chieftains), Jack Turley (Heriot’s). 

Replacements:  Jonathan Matthews (Boroughmuir), Nick Beavon (Melrose), Struan Cessford (Heriot’s), Hamish Bain (Currie Chieftains), Ruairidh Leishman (Stirling County), Murdo McAndrew (Melrose), Jamie Forbes (Currie Chieftains), Robbie Nelson (Currie Chieftains)

Ireland Club XV: Eamonn Mills (Lansdowne); Harry Brennan (Lansdowne), Niall Kenneally (Cork Constitution), Matt D'Arcy (Clontarf), Daniel McEvoy (Lansdowne); Jamie Gavin (Garryowen), Neil Cronin (Garryowen) (capt); Cronan Gleeson (Old Wesley), Robbie Smyth (Terenure College), Colm Skehan (Young Munster), Ben Reilly (Clontarf), Alex Thompson (Terenure College), Michael Melia (Terenure College), Jack Dwan (Lansdowne), Michael Noone (Clontarf)

Replacements: Paddy Finlay (Dublin University), Tom O'Reilly (St. Mary's College), James Kendrick (Cashel), Joe McSwiney (Cork Constitution), Paulie Tolofua (Naas), Angus Lloyd (Dublin University), Mark O'Neill (Tenenure College), Fionn Higgins (Naas)