Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Ansbro hands Scots victory

Joe Ansbro

Joe Ansbro's first international try earned Scotland a narrow 10-6 victory over Ireland in the EMC Test at Murrayfield.

The first Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture offered the players from both sides the chance to impress, but it was a disjointed affair, with Jonathan Sexton kicking two penalties and Chris Paterson replying for the hosts.

And Ansbro's score four minutes from time and Ruaridh Jackson's subsequent conversion settled a poor contest in favour of the hosts.

The London Irish centre was put into space by substitute Nick De Luca and seized his opportunity magnificently, showing pace and a neat sidestep from 30 yards out to cross for the decisive score.

It was the only moment of brilliance in a match that had pre-season stamped all over it with two rusty teams producing plenty of toil but little to warm the 28,288 crowd on a surprisingly cold afternoon in Edinburgh.

Ireland will be satisfied that Rob Kearney, Tomas O'Leary and Jerry Flannery gained match time after returning from lengthy injury lay-offs. Otherwise coach Declan Kidney will have gleaned little new information, although the lively Andrew Trimble will have done his World Cup hopes some good.

Ireland have arranged four internationals to prepare for the tournament in New Zealand, but for Scotland time is more precious with Italy in a fortnight their only other warm-up match.

Their possession was occasionally ragged but coach Andy Robinson will have wanted to see more from centres Graeme Morrison and Ansbro, though the latter redeemed himself with his superb try.

The experimental back row of Alasdair Strokosch, Johnnie Beattie and Ross Rennie had their moments, but failed to provide any go-forward.

The biggest worry for Robinson, however, will be his team's lack of potency, an age-old failing for the Scots whose hesitancy and error-strewn play close to the line let them down time and again until Ansbro struck.