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Ireland Wolfhounds Fail To Build On Solid First Half

Ireland Wolfhounds Fail To Build On Solid First Half

The O2 Ireland Wolfhounds were beaten 32-13 by Scotland ‘A’ at Netherdale on Friday night, after turning around at the break with a 13-9 lead.

A try by Ireland Wolfhounds debutant Willie Faloon and the conversion and two penalties by Ian Humphreys were the only scores Eric Elwood’s men could muster.

Scotland ‘A’ changed their tactics in the second half and in Elwood’s words, they attacked the Wolfhounds ‘close to the ruck.’

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The consequence was two tries for the Scots from Moray Low and Hefin O’Hare, and out-half David Blair led the scoring with a goal-kicking haul of 19 points (five penalty goals and two conversions).

The Wolfhounds had looked full of rugby in the first half, much the sharper with ball in hand and the more aggressive at the ruck.

By contrast, Scotland ‘A’ struggled to make headway with their back-line attacks and up front they were frequently on the back foot.

But coming into the second half, the Scots changed their tactics with devastating results as Elwood admitted afterwards.

“They attacked us close to the ruck and dominated possession. We simply didn’t have much ball and could do very little,” he said.

“We probably missed a couple of scoring chances in the first half and that was disappointing.”

The Wolfhounds were not helped by injuries to Tony Buckley, who suffered a tight hamstring, while Nevin Spence was also experienced double vision after shipping a heavy tackle.

Despite the Ireland side’s dynamic start, it was Scotland A who claimed first points with a Blair penalty. The visitors however hit back decisively in front of an attendance of 3,346.

From a lineout, Johne Murphy came off his blindside wing to slice though on the inside channel before feeding Willie Faloon.

The Ulster flanker, who was making his debut at ‘A’ international level, was tackled by O’Hare, but when the ball was recycled Faloon was quickly back on his feet to take the scoring pass for a try under the posts. Humphreys added the straightforward conversion kick.

Two penalties by Blair to one by Humphreys left the Wolfhounds 13-9 ahead at half-time and seemingly on their way to victory.

But it was not to be. The Scots, adopting a forward driving game, soon took control of the battle for possession and were rewarded with a try from a driven lineout credited to replacement prop Moray Low. Blair converted for a 16-13 lead.

A further series of drives by the Scotland ‘A’ pack brought them to within five metres of the Wolfhounds’ line. Big lock Scott MacLeod was thwarted but referee Greg Garner had ruled the Wolfhounds offside, giving Blair an easy kick at goal for a 19-13 advantage.

With Scotland ‘A’ in full cry, home skipper Greig Laidlaw, who was voted man-of-the-match, made it 22-15 after landing a long range penalty goal.

The Ireland Wolfhounds, who introduced a number of young players into the fray, tried desperately to hit back with a break by replacement scrum half Isaac Boss. However, the Scottish defence held firm.

Then, when Blair kicked his fifth penalty it was all over for the Wolfhounds, their disappointment compounded as Scotland ‘A’ engineered a 79th minute try for winger O’Hare and Blair tagged on the final points of the game.

SCOTLAND ‘A’: Jim Thompson (Edinburgh); Hefin O’Hare (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Cairns (Edinburgh), John Houston (Edinburgh), Lee Jones (Edinburgh); David Blair (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (captain) (Edinburgh); Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Scott MacLeod (Edinburgh), Fraser McKenzie (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh), Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors).

Replacements used: Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) for Welsh (22 mins), Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors) for Thompson (46), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) for Wilson (51), Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors) for Hall (67), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh) for MacDonald (72).

O2 IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS: Gavin Duffy (Galwegians/Connacht); Johne Murphy (Young Munster/Munster), Eoin O’Malley (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Nevin Spence (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster); Ian Humphreys (Ballymena/Ulster), Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster); Brett Wilkinson (Galwegians/Connacht), Damien Varley (Garryowen/Munster), Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster), Ian Nagle (Cork Constitution/Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Willie Faloon (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster) (capt).

Replacements used: Ian Whitten (Ballynahinch/Ulster) for Spence, Jamie Hagan (Corinthians/Connacht) for Buckley (both half-time), Nigel Brady (Dungannon/Ulster) for Varley, Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht) for Nagle (both 57 mins), Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) for McLaughlin (62), Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster) for O’Leary (63), Niall O’Connor (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) for Humphreys (67).

Referee: Greg Garner (England)