Scotland V Ireland

Scotland’s hopes of enhancing their proud recent championship record at BT Murrayfield were dashed by an Ireland team who ultimately imposed their physicality and made fewer mistakes.

There were again stirring efforts from Jamie Ritchie and Stuart McInally in Scotland colours but the try count was won 3-1 by the visitors at crucial periods, early doors and before half-time, when Scotland could not prise a try to reward their territory, always looked to have a large bearing on the outcome.

And when the game required chasing in the final quarter, Scotland’s handling errors increased to mounting frustration for the capacity crowd.

Scotland kicked off to the railway end of the ground through Stuart Hogg and began attractively with a Huw Jones touch-finder taking play to within 15 metres of the Irish line.

More twinkle toes from Hogg, carving up the middle then threatening on the right, cemented that start and when Jonny Sexton was penalised for a high tackle on Ryan Wilson, Scotland opted for the touchline. Wilson caught and the pack rumbled.

Hands in a ruck from Bundee Aki saw Ireland penalised under their posts and Greig Laidlaw landed Scotland’s first points (3-0, 6 mins).

From the restart, Huw Jones knocked on close to the West Stand touchline to set up the game’s first scrum. Scotland’s defence was solid and when they forced an Irish mistake, Hogg was unleashed on the counter-attack.

However, referee Romain Poite ruled that Hogg was not taken out illegally following his own kick-ahead. Ireland regained possession and worked the ball right, Jacob Stockdale kicked on and Chris Farrell pursued. Tommy Seymour collected but in seeking to keep the ball alive, his pass bobbled from Sean Maitland’s grasp for Conor Murray to follow up for the try, his 13th for Ireland. Sexton missed the conversion. (3-5, 11mins).

Scotland lost Hogg to a shoulder injury after 16 minutes with Blair Kinghorn his replacement. At once, from a breakdown on half-way, Ireland engineered an opening and Sexton sent Stockdale steaming clear for Ireland’s second try. Murray converted. (3-12, 16 mins).

Kinghorn broke menacingly as Scotland secured the restart and Ireland were fortunate to escape with just a penalty against them when they slowed up ruck ball seven metres from their own line. There, Scotland aimed to take the kick to touch. Instead, Russell tapped, but the ball was knocked on for an Irish scrum, at which they were duly awarded a collapse penalty.

Scotland continued to threaten, and Sam Johnson uncorked Kinghorn on another thrust, which ended with Seymour denied on the right touchline. After the involvement of the TMO, the move was recalled as Johnson’s pass was deemed forward.

As the half hour neared, Scotland struck back with their first try of the day. Carbery’s pass into midfield was intercepted by Finn Russell. Keith Earls got back to make the tackle inside the Ireland 22, but Russell was coolness personified as he delivered a pass away from the Irish cover to the supporting Sam Johnson for the centre to nab his first try for his country. Laidlaw converted imperiously from close to the touchline (10-12, 29 mins).

Scotland, enjoying possession inside the Irish 22, built from a close-range scrum but after multiple phases, just could not find accuracy in the final pass from Jones to Seymour, Stockdale doing well to deny his opposite number. There was always the feeling that missed opportunity here would prove costly.

Half time: Scotland 10 Ireland 12.

Rob Harley, who was now replacing Wilson, as Ritchie had recovered from a head wound, was penalised for a tackle on Sean O’Brien five minutes into the second-half and Ireland opted for the touchline.

Ritchie secured a turnover penalty with his work at the breakdown on Earls but Ireland were soon back in the Scotland 22 after a scrum penalty awarded by referee Poite.

Another rip of the ball at breakdown, this time by Stuart McInally enabled Scotland to clear, but continuity was proving hard to come by at this stage as Ireland’s pack went through the gears.

Ireland grabbed the first points of the half as Carbery waltzed up the middle from loose ball and found space before releasing Earls for their third try. Carbery converted (10-19, 56 mins).

On the hour, Scotland won a turnover through Ritchie and Ireland then were penalised at the subsequent breakdown. Laidlaw was on the mark with Scotland’s first points of the half. (13-19, 61 mins).

That effort, however, was cancelled out by Carbery as Ireland bulldozed through a sustained set of phases (13-22, 68 mins).

Ireland’s scrum had waxed strong as the game progressed, but Scotland contrived to find a way of rescuing set-piece ball when the cause seemed forlorn and a touch-finder took them into the Irish 22. Ireland though kept their composure and when Scotland were pinged at breakdown they found themselves back in their own 22 with five minutes remaining.

Alas, there was to be on Grandstand finish and Ireland after their opening day defeat at home to England had bounced back to secure victory.

Full-time: Scotland 13 Ireland 22.

live commentary 2:15 PM Saturday 9 Feb 2019

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Kick-off 2:15 PM



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