Center Joe Ansbro’s late try gave Scotland a pre-World Cup boost as they beat an experimental Ireland 10-6 in a scrappy warm-up game at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Saturday.
The visitors had looked on course for victory thanks to two Jonathan Sexton penalties as they led 6-3, before a sweeping move straight from the training ground put Ansbro through two minutes from time.
With the sides keen to iron out their problems before the World Cup starts in New Zealand on Sept. 9 and with players desperate to stake their claims for selection for the tournament, the match was less about the result than the performance.
Scotland manager Andy Robinson, whose team have only one more warm-up lined up compared with three more for Ireland, watched his side squander plenty of chances, including Nikki Walker’s spill close to the line early on, a fluffed opportunity by Sean Lamont and a missed kick by Chris Paterson.
Ireland, keen to prove they are better prepared for the World Cup than four years ago when they made a group-stage exit, will have been encouraged by their defensive strength for much of the game in the absence of their big names.
Scotland enjoyed the better possession and made more of the running in the first half, but Ireland stood firm and eventually broke the deadlock with a penalty from Sexton after 33 minutes.
Paterson kicked Scotland level on 50 minutes, before Sexton restored Ireland’s lead.
The Ireland flyhalf then missed a kick as the game became even more disjointed as an influx of substitutes disrupted the rhythm.
Just when they looked to be heading for defeat, Scotland remembered what their coaches had taught them and, after a lineout produced a slick midfield move, Nick De Luca jinked forward from a Ruaridh Jackson pass to release Ansbro, who cut in and touched down.
Jackson converted to give Scotland the win in a game where kickoff had been delayed by 15 minutes because of long lines of fans waiting to get into the stadium.