With my Rugby Union team playing in Limerick in the European Rugby Champions Cup against the mighty Munster and Scotland Rugby League playing in Dublin against Ireland Rugby League it seemed rude not to get my last fix of the 13 men game for the season! So, after a very leisurely breakfast, reading rugby on the actual back page of the newspaper rather than 8 pages of football in, I set off up the M7. Rather than having to make that drive alone as I’d originally thought I had the company of Peter, a Munster fan I’d met the night before. The wonder of the game of rugby, you make friends wherever you go! The journey between the 2 places is basically a straight 2 lane motorway with few cars, it took about 2 hours.
The game between Ireland and Scotland in the second round of the European Championship was a key fixture. Both teams were coming to the Tallaght Stadium on the back of a win; Scotland had beaten Wales 42 to 18 and Ireland had an historic 22 to 12 victory over France. The winner of the clash in Ireland would be in a very strong position to win the whole thing to take their place in the next 4 Nations competition; joining England, New Zealand Australia.
For a game with a lot riding on it, it was disappointing to realise there was no TV coverage; very hard for the ‘lesser’ nations to take the game seriously when it seems the media doesn’t! I must confess to a connection before I start writing my sport – my brother Keith is Chairman of Scotland RL – not too sure how an Essex ‘boy’ found himself in that position? But I guess the fact he lives in North Berwick and is rugby league mad probably accounts for that fact!
The teams came out for the anthems and Scotland made a very good fist of things with no music, my insider knowledge tells me that this is a deliberate thing on the part of Scotland; The plan is that every person involved in the Bravehearts knows and sings every word at the top of their voices. Ireland were quiet for the 1st of their 2 but belted out Ireland’s Call, their rugby anthem. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – every other country has a better anthem than England’s!
Ireland kicked off and Scotland made steady progression with their 1st set – A penalty was awarded for lying on against Scotland near the end of the Irish 1st attack giving them a good field position. That position was squandered as the ball was knocked on and Scotland were awarded their own penalty. Scotlands’ attack fell just short of the Irish line. The 1st Get em on side was heard after 5 minutes, rugby league crowds never disappoint! The 1st ‘scrum’ of the game came as Scotland knocked the ball on. I do use that term loosely, but one thing’s for sure we don’t never have any of the painful delays due to collapsed etc scrums!
Ireland were given further field position by a penalty but again wasted their opportunity with a wild pass being knocked on. Scotland had a great break through Adam Walker who surged down the pitch – not necessarily the man you want to see breaking as he starts at prop, but he made a fair distance before passing. The kick through was possibly a touch too strong and Ireland managed to take possession.
Jobe Murphy had an early bath after he was tackled; as he was going down he took a blow to the head; he was out like a light. Never good to see lots of medical staff on the pitch or a man being carried off on a stretcher. Without the benefit of TV replays the referee, Mr Silverwood put the tackle on report; hopefully neither of the outcomes will have an effect on the players. In spite of the incident going on report the tackle count resumed rather than a penalty being given.
The theme of knocking the ball on continued with Scotland repeating the error as Oscar Thomas passed to Ben Kavanagh close to the Irish line. The next such knock on was by a Scottish hand as Ireland attacked; putting the Irish into a very strong attacking position; it’s rare for such field advantage not to result in a try no matter what the level of rugby league. Ireland went over the line once but were held up; they knocked the ball on before they had another chance to breach the line.
Danny Brough, on his day one of the best players in the world; playing in Scottish colours, put in several kicks in the 1st half; virtually on each occasion they held up; a sign of the force of the wind whistling down the ground. With 8 minutes of the 1st half remaining the score remained as it started; a very unusual state of affairs in a rugby league game. It was hard to see where a try was going to come from; having seen a 3 all the night before at half time in Thomond Park no score looked the likeliest score at half time in Tallaght.
In the final minutes of the half we had what Stevo of Sky Sports would refer to as a Schamozzle; basically one error after another by both sides. However Callum Phillips ensured that there would be more than a zero on the board as Scotland took advantage of an error behind the line as Casey Dunne missed the ball kicked through allowing Phillips to touch down; Brough converted the try. A mighty, Ireland 0 Scotland 6 therefore as the teams went down the tunnel.
The teams emerged after half time and the hope was that we’d see a few more points racked up. It was to be Scotland who scored after 8 minutes as a good pass to Callum Phillips by Adam Walker gave them some space; Adan Wardle took advantage of the space; passing to Alex Hurst who ran down his wing to score. Danny Brough added the extras. Ireland 0 Scotland 12 – as the game against France and Wales was looking like a big win for the Gallic team.
A fantastic run through by Ireland’s number 10 Luke Ambler came to nothing as he dropped the ball once he was finally tackled. Danny Addy made a great break for Scotland but looked the wrong side for his support. Things really weren’t gelling for either side. Danny Brough used his head when he received the ball right in front of the posts; dropping a goal to stretch the Scottish lead to 13 with 17 minutes remaining.
Scotland extended their lead further after a big hit gave them possession in the Irish half; Danny Addy who stood out through the game ran in to score the try. Danny Brough kicked the conversion taking Scotland to 19. The ball didn’t go10 from the kick off, giving Scotland a penalty on the halfway line. the final kick from Brough as they attacked was knocked on.
Ireland weren’t to finish the game with a zero after they broke from their own half; it was the 1st proper display of running rugby league as the Scottish defence found themselves stretched. It gave the home crowd something to shout about as James Toole scored a great try. The conversion was missed.
Scotland showed they could do exciting too as they surged up the pitch; Danny Addy passed inside to Oscar Thomas; a player I’ve watched a fair bit of this season at London Broncos; Thomas scored under the posts giving the experienced Brough an easy kick.
Ireland went for a short kick off and this time won the ball, but time was against them and the score finished on Ireland 4 Scotland 25. The game in France finished France 42 Wales 22; setting up a winner takes all game next Friday as Scotland take on France in Galashiels. This is when I wish I lived Oop North so I could be at the game, fingers crossed one of the TV channels sees sense and televises the game!
A very happy Big Brother!