Chris Henry scored a try on his return from heart surgery as Ireland edged out Scotland 28-22 in a closely contested World Cup warm-up in Dublin on Saturday.
Henry, who was ruled out in November 2014 to repair a defect in his heart wall, scored Ireland’s first try of four. Sean Cronin, the man of the match Simon Zebo, and Luke Fitzgerald made up the tries with 26-year-old Ian Madigan making up the Irish scoring with four successful conversions.
Vern Cotter’s Scotland somewhat put their nightmare Six Nations behind them and did some impressive stuff, scoring three tries through Blair Cowan, Henry Pyrgos and fly-half Peter Horne. The No.10 also scored a conversion and penalty, while Ruaridh Jackson struck a conversion to complete their tally.
After an error-filled opening quarter of an hour, Ireland initially took the lead through Ulster flanker Henry, who touched down for his third test try. The Irish speed at the breakdown was relentless, but Scotland’s defence probably should have done better as Henry forced his way powerfully across the whitewash after 15 minutes. Madigan confidently added the extras.
But Scotland responded on the half-hour when Cowan dived over in the right corner to complete a fantastic try following some superb free-flowing passing. Peter Horne kicked successfully from the tee to level the scores.
And that is the way it stayed in a very well balanced opening 40 minutes, 7-7.
Scotland started well after the break and took the lead. Following numerous phases of play, Skipper Pyrgos burrowed his way under the Irish defence to touch down on the line to the left of the posts.
But Horne curled his attempted conversion from the left-hand side wide of the right post, 7-12.
Irish hooker Cronin then took control of the ball at maul following his own lineout before breaking off and surging over for the try after 54 minutes. And Madigan edged Ireland back in front from the tee as he added the extras.
Horne then put Scotland back in front with a penalty five minutes later, but their lead lasted just a minute as Zebo touched down for the hosts.
Zebo, who was playing at fullback rather than his usual wing, displayed excellent straight running to receive a well-timed offload Madigan to score. And the fly-half confidently converted again to give the hosts a six-point lead.
But the end-to-end match swung again as Horne showed an excellent support line to pick up the ball off Sean Lamont to touch down to the left of the posts. Jackson took up the goal-kicking responsibilities and was successful to give Scotland a one-point lead.
But the Irish were back in front when an excellently executed cross-field kick from Madigan found Fitzgerald, who didn’t have to break his stride to collect and stroll in to score unopposed after 79 minutes. The fly-half then added the extras again to put the hosts in front for a fourth time and final time, 28-22.
Ireland, despite some late pressure, held on to make it back-to-back wins in their warm-up matches following their triumph in Cardiff last weekend.
Man of the match- Simon Zebo
Although Zebo limped off for the last three minutes the stand in fullback, finished off a wonderfully composed display with a superb try. There was a lot of pressure on him coming into the game, but he looked sharp and has gave himself a better chance of making his way into Joe Schmidt’s final 31-man World Cup squad.