A STRONG second-half performance gave Ireland an eventually comfortable win over Scotland in yesterday's Junior World Cup warm-up match played on the back pitch at Murrayfield.
Encouragingly, though, the Scots' display represented a narrowing of the gap between the two countries and will undoubtedly give Scotland confidence going into their game against Wales at Bridgend on Wednesday.
The Scots can take credit for a massive forward effort that had Ireland under pressure for much of the match and which produced three tries for Scotland. The difference between the two sides, however, was behind the scrum where Ireland used whatever quality ball they secured to good effect with flat attacking and an ability to inject width and pace into their endeavour.
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"The first half was great. We definitely matched them. The boys worked incredibly hard," said Sean Lineen, the Scotland under-20 head coach. "But defensively there are some areas we need work on. We need to be a lot more competitive. In that second half we fell away a bit. But we scored two cracking tries."
Scotland made their forward power tell in the first half with a touchdown by Carmichael, and a penalty try converted by stand-off Ben Chalmers to lead 12-8 at the break.
But, despite a good try for Scotland by Ritchie off the back of a five-metre scrum, it was Ireland who ruled the second half to score tries by Billy Dardis, Dan Goggin and Peader Timmins, as well as two conversions and a penalty, for what was a confidence-lifting win.