Rugby League European Cup

By Phil Caplan, Date: 15/10/12

SCOTLAND 18 IRELAND 30 at Meggetland, Edinburgh

Ireland pulled off a fine win in Edinburgh thanks to a dominant first half which saw them post four tries all down the right – two to Tim Bergin and two to veteran Stuart Littler – to take a commanding 22-0 lead at the break.


And when Callum Casey scored three minutes into the second-half, it presented Scotland with an insurmountable challenge although the Bravehearts lived up to their name, fighting to the last.

Rain drove in for an hour before kick off, which cut up the Meggetland pitch by the end of the warm-ups, the Scottish capital staging a rugby league international for the first time.

Scotland coach Dave Rotheram, taking the team for Head Coach Steve McCormack, handed debuts to four youngsters: Leeds hooker Liam Hood, 20, teenage Wigan wide-man Shae Lyon-Fraser, and 21 year old twins Jonathan and Adam Walker off the replacement bench.

It was a far stronger Scotland side than that which beat Ireland in Glasgow last year, but still included seven players aged 22 or under.

Ireland, too, were more experienced, with Warrington Wolves loose forward Tyrone McCarthy the stand-out name while coach Mark Aston gave debuts to six players and caps to John O’Donnell and James Mendeika, who both played in the non-capped game against England Knights.

The opening was cagey but once Ireland found a way through they dominated. On 14 minutes, Bergin touched down inside the flag before going off to have a head wound stitched.

By the time he returned, Littler had doubled Ireland’s lead. Bergin then scored again, swiftly followed by Littler once more as Liam Finn and James Meneika targeted Scotland’s left side of defence.

“Credit to the players,” said coach Mark Aston. “They found a weakness and shot it to pieces.” Finn’s three goals extended the lead, as Ireland camped in Scotland’s half and the Bravehearts failed to complete their sets.

The home side needed to score first after the break but when Casey raced in to make it 26-0 and Finn goaled, it appeared to be a matter of how many Ireland would score, their only further points, however, being a Finn penalty after the hosts had threatened a comeback.

Scotland fought back well, reversing the pattern of the first half with continued possession in Ireland’s half, mostly as a result of some fine forward play.

That pressure brought three tries: the lively Ben Fisher got a touch to his own grubber kick after it was fumbled; Mitch Stringer capped an excellent display with a try just after the hour and substitute Callum Cockburn touched down Fisher’s bomb and David Scott kicked his third conversion to make it 18-30.

But there were only six minutes left and Ireland held out for an impressive victory.

1 Brett Carter
2 Alex Hurst
3 Shae Lyon-Fraser
4 Josh Barlow
5 David Scott
6 Lee Paterson
7 Liam Hood
8 Paul Jackson
9 Andrew Henderson
10 Mitchell Stringer
11 Sam Barlow
12 Dale Ferguson
13 Alex Szostak
Subs (all used)
14 Ben Fsher
15 Adam Walker
16 Jonathan Walker
17 Callum Cockburn

Tries: Fisher (58), Stringer (61), Cockburn (74)
Goals: Scott 2/2

1 Gregg McNally
2 Tim Bergin
3 Stuart Littler
4 Joshua O’Toole
5 John O’Donnell
6 James Mendeika
7 Liam Finn
8 Sean Hesketh
9 Carl Sice
10 Luke Ambler
11 Elliot Cosgrove
12 Callum Casey
13 Tyrone McCarthy
Subs (all used)
14 Colton Roche
15 Sam Wellens
16 Matty Hadden
17 Tom McKeown

Try: Bergin (14, 33), Littler (22, 37), Casey (43).
Goals: Finn 5/6

Half-time: 0-22
Referee: Ben Thaler
Attendance: 726