The newly-named Ireland Wolfhounds ran in five tries to complete a 34-19 victory over a Scotland 'A' side containing nine senior internationals at Ravenhill on Friday night.
'A' INTERNATIONAL MATCH: Friday, February 5
IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS 34 SCOTLAND 'A' 19, Ravenhill
Scorers: Ireland Wolfhounds: Tries: Chris Henry, Fergus McFadden 2, Isaac Boss, Johne Murphy; Cons: Ian Humphreys 3; Pen: Ian Humphreys
Scotland 'A': Tries: James Eddie, Mark Robertson, Penalty try; Cons: Ruaridh Jackson, Jim Thompson
Early scores from captain Chris Henry and Fergus McFadden, allied to three successful kicks from Ian Humphreys, pushed the hosts into a 17-0 break lead.
Man-of-the-match Henry was hugely influential for Michael Bradley's charges who had lock Devin Toner sin-binned after the restart.
Scotland 'A' closed the gap with three tries but touchdowns from McFadden, Isaac Boss and Johne Murphy sealed the result.
In front of a 2,746-strong crowd, impressive individual displays from Henry, centre McFadden, full-back Gavin Duffy, lock Ryan Caldwell and flanker Shane Jennings helped the ‘A’ side bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to England Saxons.
The Irish made most of the early running and quickly got on the scoreboard. Five minutes in, prop Tony Buckley, aided by Caldwell, ripped the ball free from a Scottish ruck, charged forward and flipped a neat pass away for Darren Cave to dummy his way up the right wing and pass back inside for his Ulster team-mate Henry to score to the right of the posts.
Humphreys added the conversion and Scotland ‘A’ were left frustrated when they had a try ruled out for a forward pass from John Houston, a late replacement for hamstring injury victim Simon Danielli.
Euan Murray caused problems for the hosts in the scrum but the Wolfhounds rallied and had the better of the closing ten minutes of the first half. The Irish cranked things up with a superb break involving nine players but a forward pass from Humphreys to Ian Dowling brought the attack to a premature end.
But the hosts' second try duly came off turnover ball. Toner did well to intercept a pass in midfield and maintain possession and Humphreys, Cave and Duffy passed well before the latter sent McFadden diving over for a score that exhibited Ireland's counter-attacking abilities to their fullest, with Humphreys adding the extras.
The Wolfhounds lost the services of Toner, three minutes into the second half, after he became entangled with Jim Hamilton and Scotland ‘A’ seized their opportunity to put points on the board.
The visitors mauled forward with great intent and the Irish defensive line eventually broke when James Eddie nipped over for an unconverted try. The Wolfhounds immediately got back on the try trail, though, as Duffy made a terrific break out of his own half and teed up McFadden for his second of the night.
Scotland ‘A’ also threatened out wide and replacement Mark Robertson was able to finish off some good work by Nick De Luca to touch down and keep his side in the hunt.
Ruaridh Jackson converted to close the gap to 24-12 but again the Wolfhounds responded in impressive fashion. Winger Murphy glided through on an excellent run and released replacement scrum half Boss for the hosts’ fourth try.
The margin was down to 10 points when referee Pascal Gauzere awarded the Scots a penalty try, after the Ireland Wolfhounds scrum had wilted under immense pressure and within a minute, prop Marcus Horan was sin-binned for persistent infringing in the scrum.
But Bradley’s men held on for a deserved win, tagging on a fifth a final try in injury-time - the late score rewarding Murphy for an energetic display on the right wing.
IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS: Gavin Duffy; Johne Murphy, Darren Cave, Fergus McFadden, Ian Dowling; Ian Humphreys, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Sean Cronin, Tony Buckley, Ryan Caldwell, Devin Toner, Dan Tuohy, Shane Jennings, Chris Henry (capt).
Replacements used: Keith Matthews for McFadden (57 mins), Mike Ross for Buckley, Nigel Brady for Cronin, Isaac Boss for Stringer (all 63), Ian Keatley for Humphreys, Niall Ronan for Jennings (both 67), Ed O'Donoghue for Toner (76).
SCOTLAND ‘A’: Jim Thompson; Nikki Walker, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, John Houston; Ruaridh Jackson, Mike Blair (capt); Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Euan Murray, Scott MacLeod, Jim Hamilton, James Eddie, Roddy Grant, Scott Gray.
Replacements used: Craig Hamilton for MacLeod, Greig Laidlaw for Blair, Kyle Traynor for Welsh (all 57 mins), Mark Robertson for Walker (63), Rob Dewey for De Luca, Andrew Kelly for Hall (both 67), Fraser McKenzie for Jackson (74).
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)