Scotland 13 Ireland 22
Ireland put in a better second half performance – and were more streetwise than Scotland – as they won this Guinness Six Nations clash at BT Murrayfield.
Scotland got off to a fast start and, after good yards made by full-back Stuart Hogg and No.8 Josh Strauss, a near kick from centre Huw Jones got them into the ‘22’ and showed their intent.
That was after around 70 seconds and the game continued at that pace, back-row Ryan Wilson being tackled high by stand-off Johnny Sexton.
FULL-TIME: SCO 13-22 IRE
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 9, 2019
The penalty went to touch and a few phases later Scotland won a penalty in front of the posts.
Captain Greig Laidlaw kicked the penalty to make it 3-0 after seven minutes.
Ireland scored the game’s first try after 11 minutes.
A kick ahead by winger Jacob Stockdale caused some issues in the Scotland defence. Winger Tommy Seymour fielded it, but his pass to fellow winger Sean Maitland went through his hands and Irish scrum-half Conor Murray pounced.
After an injury stoppage, Sexton missed the conversion and it was 5-3 to the visitors.
Hogg was then forced off for Scotland with an injury, Blair Kinghorn replacing him.
And almost immediately, in the 17th minute, Ireland score their second try when Stockdale ran a great line through the middle and scored under the posts. Murray converted and it was 12-3.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 9, 2019
Kinghorn, last week’s hat-trick hero, then had a good break as the first quarter ended at the same speed as it had started.
In the 23rd minute a kick through by Scotland stand-off Finn Russell nearly set-up Seymour for a try before play was brought back for an earlier forward pass.
At the same time the injured Sexton went off with Joey Carbery coming on.
Just before the half hour mark Scotland were right back in this one.
Russell intercepted a Carbery pass in his own half and sprinted off down the field.
Ireland winger Keith Earls got back and tackled him, but Russell had the awareness to pop the ball up to centre Sam Johnson who scored his first international try. Laidlaw converted and it was 12-10.
Scotland were on the front foot now, but back-row Jamie Ritchie was injured and had to be replaced by Rob Harley after 35 minutes.
The hosts then played multiple phases in the Ireland danger zone, but the visitors held Seymour out and then second-row Jonny Gray. That was a big chance and things stayed at 12-10 until half-time.
Ritchie returned from his blood injury at the start of the second half, but fellow back-row Ryan Wilson was off, Harley staying on in his place.
Ireland started the half well and had a bit of pressure, but a thumping tackle by Scotland hooker Stuart McInally on Earls stopped them in their tracks as this one continued to be breathless.
In the 56th minute Ireland pounced on some poor defence by Scotland to score their third try.
Carbery was given a poor pass, but collected it and ran through the middle before floating a pass to Earls who finished the try off.
The replacement stand-off kicked the conversion and it was 19-10.
Just after the hour mark Laidlaw’s second penalty made it 19-13 and then Scotland brought on hooker Fraser Brown and centre Pete Horne to freshen things up.
With 12 minutes to go a Carbery penalty stretched Ireland’s lead to nine points once again with a penalty.
And as they tried to kill the game off, Scotland made a trio of changes including Glasgow Warriors’ tighthead D’Arcy Rae coming on for a debut at this level.
Scotland had some ball late on, but unforced errors meant that Ireland secured an away win.
Three talking points
Ireland were there for the taking: Scotland played well in spells, but they gifted Ireland the first try and in the second half they gave away too many unnecessary penalties. If Scotland could have scored after their 25 phases before half-time and gone ahead it might have been different.
Sam Johnson looks like a good option at 12: Has had two good appearances for Scotland under his belt now and looks like he is here to stay. Finn Russell’s skill set-up his try, but Johnson did well to track the run and be there to take the pass.
How Stuart Hogg’s injury is will be crucial: He went off with what looked like a shoulder injury and it really affected Scotland’s performance. There are now two weeks until Scotland play in France in the next Six Nations match and Gregor Townsend’s men could do with him in Paris.
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw said: “We kept turning possession over. When we gave Ireland a set piece they were able to exit their half and it’s always difficult when you’re trying to score from deep.
“The effort was unbelievable, the energy in our defence for large parts was brilliant and we just have to be patient.
“We feel we can go to France [on February 23], put in a strong performance and get a win.”
Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Jones, Johnson, Maitland; Russell, Laidlaw (C); Dell, McInally, Berghan, Gilchrist, Gray, Wilson, Ritchie, Strauss. Subs: Brown, Bhatti, Rae, Toolis, Harley, Price, Horne, Kinghorn.
Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Farrell, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best (C), Furlong, Ryan, Roux, O’Mahony, O’Brien, Conan. Subs: Cronin, Kilcoyne, Porter, Dillane, Van der Flier, Cooney, Carbery, Larmour.
Scotland: Try: Johnson. Pens: Laidlaw 2. Con: Laidlaw.
Ireland: Tries: Murray, Stockdale, Earls. Cons: Murray, Carbery.
Man of the match:
Peter O’Mahony (Ireland).
Thanks to David Gibson/FOTOSPORT for the images
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