Ireland lose to Scotland in entertaining match

The Scots won 27-22 in Murrayfield

BY Simon Maguire 16:30 Saturday 4 February 2017, 16:30 4 Feb 2017

Scotland's Alex Dunbar scores their third try despite Keith Earls and Conor Murray of Ireland. Image: ©INPHO/Craig Watson

Ireland and Scotland treated the fans to an entertaining opening match in this year's Six Nations although it was the home side who were celebrating at the end. 

The away side laid down a marker early to assert their dominance at scrum time winning two early penalties against the inexperienced Scottish front row. The opening stanza of the match was pockmarked with handling errors as both teams played at pace from the off. 

The home side kicked deep into Irish territory only for Keith Earls to slice his clearance into touch. From the resulting line-out, intense Scottish pressure led to an overlap and Stuart Hogg touched down to give the home side a 5-0 lead. Laidlaw converted to bring the score out to 7-0.

Scotland's Stuart Hogg scores their first try despite Rob Kearney of Ireland. Image: ©INPHO/Craig Wats

Sean O'Brien appeared to be marked by three players every time he got the ball but was able to pick and go at a ruck which brought Ireland within scoring distance before Scotland were pinged for infringing. The resulting line-out though saw Ireland give away a penalty from their own maul.

Ireland won a third scrum penalty but were unable to take advantage after a brilliant kick to touch from Paddy Jackson after Scotland disrupted the resulting line-out and cleared their lines.

Scotland consistently challenged the Irish defence out wide, reminiscent of how Argentina targeted those channels at the 2015 World Cup quarter-final.

Hogg broke down his left wing and danced through the Irish defence once again as Vern Cotter's men converted a three-on-two overlap. Laidlaw converted again to give the home side a 14-0 lead.

Ireland struck back straight away and after concerted pressure and multiple phases saw Earls cross the whitewash in the corner although Jackson was unable to convert. Scotland led 14-5.

Ireland’s Keith Earls scores their first try. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Scotland though came straight back at their visitors and completely outfoxed Ireland at a line-out when they loaded it with backs. Nobody on the Irish team copped the move and a short throw saw Alex Dunbar crash over from close range unopposed. Laidlaw added the conversions to make it 21-5.

The men in green had a sustained period of pressure in midfield and Jackson slotted a penalty from the 10 metre line to make it 21-8 at the break.

Ireland’s Paddy Jackson kicks a penalty. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ireland upped the tempo at the start of the second half with Sean O'Brien winning an early turnover. Ireland went down the line and forced the Scots to give away a penalty under the posts.

Rory Best elected to have a scrum instead of a guaranteed three points and was rewarded for his bravery when Iain Henderson crashed over from close range after relentless Irish pressure. Jackson converted to make it 21-15.

Ireland repelled a Scottish attack after a pin-point kick from Duncan Weir found touch just short of the Irish line.

Ireland kept up the pace as CJ Stander and Sean O'Brien barged their way up the field only for Scotland to turn over the ball after Ireland were caught short at ruck-time. 

Ireland almost sneaked in when Murray blocked a clearance kick, he fed Heaslip whose offload was intercepted and cleared.

Rob Kearney then broke down the line only to be just tackled into touch before he offloaded to Earls.

Ireland kept up the intensity as the Scottish defence visibly tired and Paddy Jackson powered through the line and dotted down. He converted his own try to make the scores 22-21 to the Irish.

Ireland’s Paddy Jackson scores their third try despite Josh Strauss of Scotland
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The frenetic pace continued as both teams chased a victory. Paddy Jackson exerted his presence in the second half as the game progressed and pinned Scotland back in the 67th minute - although the home side cleared their lines.

Scotland gained a foothold in Ireland territory after substitute Ultan Dillane gave away a penalty near half way. The home side won a penalty after Jackson was pinged for not rolling away on the Irish 22 and Laidlaw slotted it over to give the men in blue a 24-22 lead. 

As Ireland went looking for the next score, Tommy Bowe was penalised late on for an adjudged high tackle and Scotland went for the line instead of kicking at goal. Their pressure was rewarded after Jamie Heaslip was pinged at a ruck for not rolling away. Laidlaw slotted the last kick of the game to give the home side a memorable 27-22 win. 


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