Ireland 28-22 Scotland
Simon Zebo answers Rugby World Cup doubters
Martyn Thomas
August 15, 2015
© PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

By no means a classic, Ireland's 28-22 defeat of Scotland in Dublin will have given both coaches food for thought as they look to finalise their World Cup plans.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt admitted after the game that his side had looked rusty, while opposite number Vern Cotter will have been happy with his side's recovery from what was a fairly woeful opening 20 minutes.

We pick three players who seized their chance in Dublin, and another three who might have let their World Cup dream slip away.



Simon Zebo, Ireland

His place in Ireland's final squad had been under threat due to a perceived propensity to make mistakes. However, on a grey afternoon in Dublin he answered every question posed emphatically. A routine early catch seemed to settle any nerves, and from there the man of the match did not put a foot wrong. Zebo was sound under the high ball, sturdy in the tackle and displayed his finishing skills to notch his side's third try.

David Denton, Scotland

The Scotland squad will not want to revisit the first 20 minutes in a hurry. It seemed as though the men in blue were in for a long afternoon as the Irish pack pushed them around, but that changed before the break, with Denton leading the way. Alongside his back-row colleagues, Blair Cowan and debutant Hugh Blake, the No.8 began to impose himself on the opposition and he was heavily involved in their opening try.

Henry Pyrgos, Scotland

At the start of play a case could have been made to say that stand-in skipper Pyrgos was Scotland's fourth-choice scrum-half behind Greig Laidlaw, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Chris Cusiter. If that was the case then Cotter could well be forced into a rethink following a composed performance from the 26-year-old No.9 that was capped by a sniping try that briefly gave his side the lead at the start of the second half.



Ryan Grant, Scotland

World Cup warm-up matches must often feel precarious for international players and coaches, who want to put in a good performance without risking injury. While last week Schmidt had to watch on helplessly as one of his players - Tommy O'Donnell - was stretchered off, this time it was Cotter's turn. Grant departed on a stretcher shortly after half-time with his ankle in a protective boot. That could have been a precaution but it doesn't look good for the Glasgow prop. 

Jack Conan, Ireland

Ireland's back row is a fiercely competitive place and in order to break into it you have to be a player of real quality. Debutant Conan was solid on his Aviva Stadium bow, but whether that will be enough to win himself a place in Schmidt's final 31-man squad remains to be seen. The hosts flickered intermittently up front following a dominant start and Scotland became a force at the breakdown as the game wore on.

Greig Tonks, Scotland

Tonks has made it clear he wants to be selected as a fly-half and not full-back if he is to make Scotland's World Cup squad, and therefore this represented his big chance. In that context, the Edinburgh man failed to fully grasp it. In truth he did not have a bad game, but neither did he do anything to suggest that he is ready to oust Duncan Weir as Finn Russell's deputy in the No.10 shirt.

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© Martyn Thomas

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