RUGBY LEAGUE IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Victory over Scotland means Wolfhounds are playing for trophy this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO MATTY HADDEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! @ Deramore PARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Ireland wins well ahead of England game on Saturday: 2 Ulster players wrree in the mix leading up to the game JJ Baird & Matty Hadden, Hadden went on to earn his first cap (an Antrim Eels Player) (Hadden is pictured above centre and above right)

Victory over Scotland means Wolfhounds are playing for trophy this weekend

The Ireland rugby league team signalled its intent ahead of Saturday’s clash against the England Knights in Belfast with a hard fought win over Scotland in Edinburgh yesterday.

A couple of late tries from the hosts made the scoreline 30-18 in the Wolfhounds favour, following an impressive 80 minutes from the men in green in the match, the first fixture of the 2012 Alitalia European Cup.

The squad can now look forward to the huge fixture against an England Knights side packed with stars at Deramore Park in Belfast at 6pm this Saturday evening, October 20.

Encounters between these two countries are never less than full-blooded, while the match enjoys some added spice because both Ireland and the England side are using the match as crucial preparation for next years Rugby League World Cup in England – while a win for the men in green would see their first ever victory over an English representative side coincide with sealing the Alitalia European Cup.

The Wolfhounds hit their stride early against Scotland, sustained early pressure leading to the opening score after fifteen minutes, when full back Gregg McNally broke free before putting winger Tim Bergin over in the corner, with a Liam Finn conversion making it 6-0.

After rebuffing a Scottish attack, Ireland moved the ball of the length of the field before attacking on the right, where Stuart Littler smashed his way over before another Finn conversion doubled the lead.

With seven minutes to go in the half the Wolfhounds again opened Scotland up on the left and winger Bergin grabbed his second. While the conversion was missed, the boys in green had found their groove and, even with time against them, secured a fourth try before half time.

Following sustained pressure another attack down the right was finished off by another bulldozing run from Littler, the second Irish player on the day to grab a brace.

The half-time score of 22-0 did not flatter the visitors, who started the second half where they had left off, when James Mendeika capitalised on a Scotland mistake to split the defence and put Elliot Cosgrove away before another Finn conversion made it 28-0.

Scotland salvaged some pride with some good work of their own, only to fumble the ball over the line, before referee Ben Thaler judged that Ireland themselves had infringed after an apparent score, calling McNally back for offside after the full back touched down.

Coach Mark Aston said: “It’s a win and the boys were fantastic. They put their bodies where they needed to go and kept turning up for each other, and that’s the Irish spirit I suppose. When you looked in their eyes after the game you could feel the passion and pride in what they achieved. That’s what we’re building.

“The game next week will be another challenge for us, against an England Knights side full of Super League players, and we are looking forward to it, we have got smiles on our faces and we are going to enjoy it.

“I’m delighted with the young lads, Tim Bergin hasn’t played a game in nine months and did 80 minutes – he’ll be sore tomorrow – and young guys like Matty Hadden, Tom McKeown and Sam Wellens, they’ve had a taste of international rugby and that should inspire them to push on and hopefully force themselves into the World Cup squad next year.”

The game against England, which will be the first international rugby league match in Belfast since the 2000 World Cup when Ireland beat Samoa, kicks off at 6pm on Saturday, October 20 at Deramore Park (NB: the game has been moved from an original Friday night, 7.30pm kick off to this new time the following day).

Training and taking the field alongside players from Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos – the latter two of which will contest the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday – are men who play their club games for teams like Antrim Eels, Athboy Longhorns and the Dublin City Exiles. A total of seven domestic players feature in the 30-man squad, which also has a total of 13 uncapped players, as preparations continue for next year’s World Cup.

The England Knights squad features a host of star names taken from Super League, including Liam Farrell of Wigan Warriors, Bradford Bulls’ Tom Burgess – who will spend next year in the glamorous NRL, Australia’s top rugby league competition, playing for Russell Crowe’s south Sydney Rabbitohs team – and Warrington Wolves’ Richie Myler and Stefan Ratchford.

Tickets for the match at Deramore Park are priced at £10 for adults, £5 for schoolchildren and students, while families of five (two adults and three children) can all get in for £20. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, all usual Ticketmaster outlets and will be sold on the door at the game. Rugby League Ireland is looking forward to a good crowd cheering the home team on to what will hopefully be a memorable victory.

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