Scotland vs Ireland, Sat, 21/03/2015 - 14:30

Scotland
10 - 40
Full time
Ireland
Saturday, 21 March, 2015 - 14:30 | BT Murrayfield

Hopes of a final flourish in front of a full house at the national stadium were eclipsed by a clinical Irish performance as Scotland were defeated 40-10 in the last round of this RBS 6 Nations.

Flashes of promise, thumping hits from no 8 David Denton, some heroic efforts from fullback Stuart Hogg - who increasingly took the weight of the task on his shoulders alone - couldn't match the all-round team effort from the visitors.

Head coach Vern Cotter was realistic to his side's shortcomings following the match: "It's a competition where you need to get victories early on. We were exposed today with a really good team against us.

"We didn't have enough possession in the second half and we needed to play like we did, in spells, throughout the tournament for longer periods of time."

The home side kicked off into glorious sunshine which was quickly blocked out by a green wall, however Scotland showed their intent in the first lineout when Ford’s arrow hit the mark and Laidlaw scampered out the back. The Scots were recalled for a knock-on which gave Ireland an open chance for the line and Henshaw saw the gap which precipitated a barrage of pick and goes. Despite Stuart Hogg animatedly orchestrating the defence, O’Connell crossed for the first points just shy of five minutes, Sexton adding the extras.

The visitors got the best of the restart, Fitzgerald breaking but with no one in support the loose ball was pounced on by a flurry of blue shirts. Lineout ball went to Sexton who made a dash for the line but was deflected by Hogg before the ball found ground and Ireland were awarded the penalty. Sexton duly saw it through the uprights, on ten minutes, seeing the visitors 10-0 clear.

Another break by Ireland was halted when the referee’s attention was brought to Euan Murray, in some discomfort, back in Scotland’s half and both he and Dougie Fife left the field – the former replaced for the rest of the match by Cross and the latter, off for a blood injury, replaced by Visser.

A Scotland lineout on the Irish 22 saw a driving maul - albeit sideways along the line - but the home side numbered up. Visser's hesitation on the collect, however, stalled progress. The Scots continued to press, with centre Matt Scott making an impressive burst however further hesitation from Visser and a loose pass from Laidlaw halted the move, until the Irish were pulled up for coming in at the wrong side and allowed the Scotland captain a kick right in front of the uprights to put three points on the home side of the board.

With the Irish pinged for taking Ashe in the air, Scotland were awarded another lineout on the 22 with Ford and Denton linking up well, the ball finding hands across the field until a series of infringements - allowing time for the return of Fife and departure of Visser - interrupted the flow again.

Ireland were quickly on the break until a try-saving tackle from Hogg forced a lineout on the home 10m. Turnover ball and another lineout within minutes saw O’Brien steal from the back of the line and break to score, on 25 minutes. Sexton was again successful with the boot to edge the visitors 17-3 ahead.

A Jim Hamilton break saw him well into Ireland's half however with no support the ensuing tackle saw the ball slip from his fingers into green arms and head north, Hogg again to the rescue forcing the turnover.

Scrappy lineout gave the Scots advantage as they took quick ball and burst through, first Hogg then Scott then Russell collecting. The latter scooted up the line, across the whitewash and around the green jerseys to dot down behind the posts, giving Laidlaw an easy conversion and Russell his first professional try for club and country.

A knee injury to Ryan Grant saw him replaced by Alasdair Dickinson and Ireland secured another penalty to increase their lead 20-10 with five minutes to go to half time.

As the clock ticked down, a neat slip out the back door from Russell saw Scott burst through, the ball go lose and chased by Hogg who threw his body across it over the line, however the referee pulled the party back for a scrum.

Scotland kept the pressure on with a big hit by Denton triggering turnover ball which flew across the blue line to Scott. A big hit on the centre dislodged his intended pass to Russell and an ensuing collapsing scrum heralded the half-time break.

Second half

The blue skies above BT Murrayfield continued to be cloudless with the sun’s shadow creeping across the green for the second half, helping at least two thirds of both sides focus better on the job in hand.

Ireland came out of the traps firing, all line breaks, rolling mauls and thumping hits, with Scotland penalised for infringing at the breakdown and Sexton’s penalty right in front of the posts ensuring another three points.

A great take from winger Tommy Seymour found lock Jonny Gray but an unlucky fumble saw the ball run loose and Ireland with the scrum just inside their half. They duly won advantage to make the yards upfield and trigger another surge at the line, a powerful break from Payne putting him across between the posts, gifting Sexton the simplest of conversions and giving the visitors a 20-point cushion.

Minutes later the Irish broke again, Scotland infringing with hands in the ruck and Hamilton replaced by Tim Swinson. The ensuing Irish penalty slammed against the upright,allowing the Scots to collect the ball and number up for an assault.

The opportunity came to nothing, however, as Cross was yellow carded for repeated infringements at the set piece, thus precipitating a period of uncontested scrums. As he left the pitch, reinforcements were on hand at 55 minutes as flanker Rob Harley and scrum half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne entered the fray for Ashe and Laidlaw respectively.

Ireland broke up the wing but with no one in support, Bowe’s frantic backpass went straight into Scottish hands; a marauding army of green, however, forced Scott into making a tricky clearance. The first uncontested scrum saw Scotland subsequently penalised for not releasing and Sexton lined up another penalty – this time the post didn’t get in the way and Ireland pulled 33-10 ahead.

Russell and Hidalgo-Clyne were doing their utmost to marshall the troops as Scotland secured a lineout on Ireland’s 5m, then a scrum, with the aforementioned duo combining well to make inroads into the Irish defence, Denton adding his weight with a powering drive.

Scotland were attacking in waves now, Denton’s bulk and Hogg’s guile assisting the cause but were driven back just as quickly. A swiftly-taken lineout in the Irish half, Cross returning to the field and some neat work from Hidalgo-Clyne around the edges showed promise but another turnover and a well-placed Irish boot to touch saw a lineout perilously close to Scotland’s line.

With ten minutes to go, fullback Greig Tonks came on for Scott and an ensuing break from Hogg saw the crowd on their feet. The run came to nothing and - a big loss - Bennett retired with a head knock, to be replaced by Visser. Ireland were too close to the line by now, made a push on the whitewash and O’Brien completed his brace, the extras added by replacement Madigan.

On the seventy-fourth minute it looked like Hogg – who had played out of his skin all afternoon – had received just reward when a searing break saw him across the line, however the re-run showed the ball had just slipped from his grasp before being grounded.

It was to be the last assault across the halfway for the Scots with Ireland continuing to press, the last kick of the game a missed penalty for the Irish as Madigan pulled it wide, underlining the feeling permeating the match that Ireland could, indeed, have pulled ahead of the Scots by more than 30 points.

Scotland now face the task of rebuilding, rearranging and renewing vigour and mindset ahead of September's World Cup, a process of which the head coach is all too aware.

He said: "We have to address a lot of things in our game before the World Cup but those things will be addressed straight away.

"We know we can do it. Part of our building will be to look at putting teams under pressure for longer periods of time.

"There's a lot within this team that needs improving on but this is a good group of guys to work with. We will look at improving skills and changing mindsets to develop faster than we are now."

Team lineups

Scotland
Ireland

Backs

15 Rob Kearney
14 Tommy Bowe
13 Jared Payne
12 Robbie Henshaw
11 Luke Fitzgerald
10 Johnny Sexton
9 Conor Murray

Forwards

1 Cian Healy
2 Rory Best
3 Mike Ross
4 Devin Toner
5 Paul O'Connell
6 Peter O'Mahony
7 Sean O'Brien
8 Jamie Heaslip

Substitutes

16 Sean Cronin
17 Jack McGrath
18 Martin Moore
19 Iain Henderson
20 Jordi Murphy
21 Eoin Reddan
22 Ian Madigan
23 Felix Jones
Attendance: 
67 144
Man of the match: 
Sean O'Brien

RBS 6 Nations Championship 2015 table

PosTeamPWLDPts
1Ireland54108
2England54108
3Wales54108
4France52304
5Italy51402
6Scotland50500

RBS 6 Nations Championship 2015 latest results

England 55 v 35 France
Scotland 10 v 40 Ireland
Italy 20 v 61 Wales
Italy 0 v 29 France
England 25 v 13 Scotland