Dominant Ireland dismiss Scottish challenge
Ireland scored four tries en route to victory at the Aviva Stadium19:02 Saturday 19 March 2016, 19:02 19 Mar 2016
Ireland put in a largely impressive performance in front of a vociferous crowd at the Aviva Stadium to claim just their second win of this year's tournament.
In an extremely entertaining affair, seven tries were shared between the sides, with CJ Stander, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Devin Toner crossing for Ireland.
The home side were the dominant team for the 80 minutes, and exploited Scottish indiscipline to maximum effect, scoring 19 points while the visitors had a man in the sin bin.
Ireland set the pace early on, carrying strongly and breaking tackles, with Stander featuring prominently in the opening exchanges.
Johnny Sexton converted the early control into a six point lead with two penalties before Greig Laidlaw got the Scots off the mark with a three pointer of his own.
However, to the frustration of the travelling support, Ireland were awarded a penalty from the restart immediately, with Sexton making it three from four from the tee.
Despite being on top for the majority of a whistle-laden opening quarter, Ireland found themselves trailing 10-9 on the 20 minute mark after Stuart Hogg's sublime try from 55 metres.
The full-back lit the game up with a scintillating score, cutting a hole in the Irish defensive line between front-rowers Mike Ross and Rory Best before outpacing the Irish cover to dot down for one of the tries of the tournament.
Laidlaw converted to give the Scots the lead by the narrowest of margins.
Rather than allow the momentum to swing in Scotland's favour, Ireland responded like they would have in their previous title winning campaigns, attacking instantly and reaping deserved rewards.
The Scottish indiscipline failed to abate on the Irish attack, and John Barclay was sent to the bin for a fifth infringement in short succession.
How costly it would prove to be.
After unrelenting pressure on the line and further three point opportunities turned down, Ireland finally crossed for their first try through CJ Stander.
The Munster captain went airborne from close range to dive over the cover and touch down, with Pascal Gauzere happy to award the try after consulting with the TMO.
Its capped an impressive debut tournament for the naturalised South African, with this being his second try for Ireland.
A second Irish try soon followed as Sexton showed off his dexterity to place a perfect chip between two Scottish defenders, who got themselves in a muddle, allowing Keith Earls to swoop in and dive over for a try on his 50th cap.
Ireland were dominant in the opening 40', but only led by eight at the break after Laidlaw struck for his second penalty.
It didn't take long for Ireland to extend their lead after the break, with Conor Murray diving over from a yard out for his third of the tournament.
Ireland were afforded the position close to the line after man of the match Jamie Heaslip made a clean break in midfield. The ball was then spread wide with Payne and Henshaw carrying strongly, before earning the lineout 5 metre from the line.
The Bravehearts refused to go down easy, and launched an assault on the Irish line to get themselves back into the game.
They eventually got a score, but the fashion in which it was conceded will infuriate Joe Schmidt as Ireland got sucked in toward the ball, leaving the space out wide and allowing Richie Gray to waltz in under the posts. Laidlaw converted and the lead was reduced to eight points once again.
Scotland began to take the initiative and looked the more threatening side, but they couldn't make any further dents into the Irish lead before being dealt a hammer blow, with Alex Dunbar sent to the bin for a dangerous clear out on Sexton at the ruck.
Ireland wasted little time in punishing the Scots, with another devastating maul bringing play deep inside the 22', before Heaslip broke the tackle and slipped the ball to Devin Toner for the 6'10" lock to touch down and finally seal the game for the home side.
The game ended with multiple niggly off the ball affairs, but Pascal Gauzere decided to keep his cards in the pocket for those incidents. However, he did decide to send Sexton to the bin close to the end of the game after repeated infringements close to the line.
The effect of the extra man was felt, as Dunbar crossed moments after coming back on for a consolation score, but it was all too little too late as Ireland claimed an impressive 10 point win.
The result leaves Ireland in third place, with France having the opportunity to overtake them if they beat England in the late game.
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