Clinical Ireland defeat Scots to get one hand on championship

Clinical Ireland defeat Scots 28-8 to get one hand on championship ahead of final round.

Despite not being at their best for periods, Ireland were ruthless when it mattered as they took their chances to earn a deserved 28-8 win over Scotland and set up a grand slam decider against England at Twickenham next weekend.

Ireland had the better of the opening ten minutes with some good spells of pressure. The only black mark being the turning down of what should have been an easy three points to go for the corner with an overthrow at the lineout bringing that opportunity to an end.

Considering Ireland needed to the win first and foremost, it was a poor decision. When the Scots got a similar opportunity in the 12th minute, they didn’t make the same mistake and Laidlaw slotted his side into a 3-0 lead.

The home side showed glimpses of promise in the opening quarter but were trying to force the issue at times while the Scots were defending resolutely and forcing errors.

When Ireland did get into Scottish territory, again some poor decision making was allowing the visitors to clear. Gregor Townsend’s side were exiting well and the kicking combination of Hogg and Russell had Ireland pinned back.

Another feature of the visitors was their work at the breakdown where they slowed Irish ball down at every occasion and succeeded in stunting the attacking ambitions of Joe Schmidt’s side.

The momentum of the game changed in the 21st minute when Jacob Stockdale picked off a looping pass from Peter Horne to spring a full 60 metres under the posts with Sexton adding the extras to make it 7-3.

Ringrose then showed his potential with a searing break through the Scottish defence but some excellent defence again forced a penalty and the visitors cleared their lines.

The game was an end to end spectacle with both sides showing real attacking ambition. From a quickly taken lineout, Scotland found space out wide and cut through a gaping hole in the Irish defence. Having created what looked like a relatively simple two on one, Huw Jones somehow managed to butcher the chance with poor pass failing to find the onrushing Stuart Hogg.

It was turning into a punishing affair with both sides trying to get the upper hand in attack while putting in some big hits in defence. The Scots were taking every opportunity to inject pace in the game with quick line outs and offloads.

An over throw from a Scottish lineout afforded Ireland one more chance before the break and some excellent handling from Ringrose and Kearney in the build up saw the move come to a halt with Bundee Aki was held up over the line.

With time left for the scrum, Ireland executed a 8-9 move to get over the gain line in midfield. A quick change of direction saw Ringrose pull off a nice wrap around move before putting Stockdale over in the corner for his sixth try of the championship.

Sexton added the extras from the touchline to give Ireland a 14-3 lead at the break. It was harsh on the Scots who probably felt that the should have gone in with some more points on the board.

Having played below themselves in the opening 40, Irish fans would have been hoping that the side would kick on and put the game to bed in the second half. A 45th minute penalty was kicked to the corner and Ireland claimed the lineout and set off for the Scottish line.

Conor Murray broke from the back and wriggled over the line for the 3rd Irish try and with Sexton adding the extras, Ireland now had a 21-3 lead and were just one try away from bonus territory.

Scotland replied with a good spell of pressure but a terrible Stuart Hogg pass failed to find Blair Kinghorn with the try line at his mercy. Wayne Barnes was playing advantage and the play was brought back for a scrum five metres out and dead in front of the posts.

The Scots broke smartly to the right and Kinghorn made no mistake the second time around to cut the deficit to 21-8 with Laidlaw’s conversion attempt dropping short.

Despite the score, Scotland looked as though they were beginning to tire. Ireland launched another attack off the back of a line out and ended up forcing a 5 metre scrum on the visitors line with 20 minutes remaining.

It was a chance to put the game to bed to some fierce defence from the Scots forced a penalty when Ringrose was pinged for holding on. It meant that Scotland would deny Ireland the bonus point try for the moment.

Ireland’s decision to opt for posts from a 65th minute with a 13 point lead was again bizarre. Sexton was off target with the kick and the score was unchanged. Considering how clinical Ireland had been with previous attacking platforms it was baffling.

The chance would present itself again in the 68th minute. The penalties were mounting against Scotland and when Sexton kicked to the corner, the Irish maul was again superb with Sean Cronin getting over off the tail. Sexton kicked from the touchline to make it 28-8. Game over and the best result Ireland could get from the remaining ten minutes was to go injury free.

Ringrose seemed to be limping with an ankle knock late on as the Scots tried in vain to reduce the arrears. The win means England have to match Ireland’s bonus point haul in Paris against to take the championship to the last weekend.



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