The Ireland Under-20s fell to their third defeat on the trot as they ended their Six Nations campaign with a 17-10 loss at Netherdale tonight.
Two maul tries from Neil Irvine-Hess and Lewis Carmichael made it 12-0 to Scotland early on, with Nigel Carolan's youngsters left to rue their indiscipline and a high error count.
Stephen Fitzgerald, Ireland's most dangerous runner, ran in a classy try before the break to add to a Ross Byrne penalty. But with David O'Connor in the sin-bin, the Scots sealed the win in the closing stages thanks to a second maul effort from lock and man-of-the-match Carmichael.
The Irish pack, which included late front row call-ups Michael Lagan and Adam McBurney, were unable to match the Scots' strength in the scrum and moreover were undone by the hosts' skill and power in the driving maul, with all three of their tries coming from driven lineouts.
Behind the scrum Ireland looked much the better of the two back divisions, with try scorer Fitzgerald and Billy Dardis standing out, but even so they were unable to break down a determined Scotland defence.
Ireland put themselves under pressure straight from the kick-off after captain Nick McCarthy knocked on deep inside his 22. Scotland took advantage first by attacking off the ensuing scrum and then driving a penalty lineout in the second minute, giving flanker Irvine-Hess the opening try which was converted by scrum half George Horne.
The Irish threatened when the fleet-footed Fitzgerald cut through in midfield, covering 50 metres on an inspirational break, but Scotland's Rory Hutchinson produced a brave tackle and then prop Conan O'Donnell then knocked on.
Horne missed a penalty set up by the Scottish scrum and there was further disappointment for the visitors when Ross Byrne failed with a 40-metre penalty effort, won by a fine turnover by hooker McBurney. Scotland looked in clinical form at the other end, though, as an Alec Coombes charge and a second driven lineout led to a try for Carmichael.
If Ireland's talents had been suppressed by Scotland's aggressive defence and forward power, then perceptions changed with a fine score by Fitzgerald in the 33rd minute – the Limerick youngster's third try of the tournament.
The left winger raided in from the left to finish off clever handling from the back-line with Byrne, centre Garry Ringrose and right winger Ciaran Gaffney key players in a fast-paced move. Byrne's conversion, adding to an earlier penalty won by the threatening Dardis, brought Carolan's side back to within two points of Scotland.
However, they were unable to make any further dents, leaving the scoreline at 12-10 for the interval with Ballymena clubman McBurney again coming up with an important turnover late on.
Ireland looked much more purposeful in the second half but against a Scottish pack that always caused problems for the Irish eight. Despite some strong carrying from Nick Timoney and Lorcan Dow, they failed to add to their points tally, with a Byrne penalty falling short after some promising interplay between Ringrose, Dardis and Sam Arnold.
The nearest Ireland came to a second try was a short range effort by Ulster-capped centre Arnold who unfortunately knocked on near the line. Before that, Fitzgerald had gone close to gathering a chip through from Byrne and number 8 Dow threatened from a five-metre scrum.
Crucially, Ireland emerged pointless from those spells of pressure in the third quarter and Scotland reasserted themselves. After coming close to scoring from a surge by Magnus Bradbury, Ireland lock O'Connor was adjudged to have illegally stopped quick recycling of the ball, earning himself a yellow card with 10 minutes left.
From the resulting penalty-created lineout, Scotland used their one-man advantage to drive over for their third try of the night, claimed by Carmichael, to make certain of third place in the table – their highest ever finish in the Under-20 Championship. Ireland finished fifth overall with England being crowned champions.
Having lost McCarthy and Dardis to injury, Ireland battled on with Fitzgerald to the fore in terms of creativity. However, they were further hampered when debutant lock Jack Dwan, one of the replacements brought on, injured his shoulder and had to go off towards the end of an attritional game.
Referee: Thomas Foley (England)