Irish seal win with first-half blitz

PA Sport
Ireland were never in danger after their superb first-half display
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Ireland were never in danger after their superb first-half display

Ireland produced a dominant first-half performance in the opening Alitalia European Cup match against Scotland in Edinburgh to lay the platform for Mark Aston's first win as head coach.

The Irish never looked back after scoring four first-half tries, all down their right flank, to establish a 22-0 interval lead, with the match finishing 30-18.

"Credit to the players," said Aston, who succeeded Andy Kelly as head coach 18 months ago. "They found a weakness and shot it to pieces."

Winger Tim Bergin and veteran centre Stuart Littler both scored two tries apiece and, when Elliot Cosgrove added a fifth three minutes into the second half, the visitors were coasting at 28-0.

However, the Bravehearts fought back to claim tries through lively hooker Ben Fisher, who got a touch to his own grubber kick, prop Mitch Stringer and substitute Callum Cockburn, who touched down Fisher's high kick.

David Scott kicked all three conversions, while Ireland's only other score came from a penalty by skipper Liam Finn, to add to his four successful conversions.

Scotland had Leeds hooker Liam Hood, 20, Wigan teenage threequarter Shae Lyon-Fraser and 21-year-old twins Jonathan and Adam Walker all making their debuts while Aston gave debuts to six players as well as first caps to John O'Donnell and James Mendeika, who both played in the non-capped game against England Knights this summer.

Ireland's next match in the Alitalia Cup is against the Knights in Belfast next Saturday evening.

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