Scotland 7-22 Ireland

Scotland 7-22 Ireland

Scotland’s hopes of a first Triple Crown in 33 years were derailed by a rampant and relentlessly accurate Ireland who dominated the second-half at BT Murrayfield this afternoon to leave them on course for a Grand Slam against England in six days’ time.

Scotland contributed hugely to the game and led for a brief ten minutes in the first-half after another blistering try from Huw Jones.

But a first-half try chance that went abegging to Duhan van der Merwe, who had started the day with such venom, and then the skill and athleticism of Ireland’s wingers were writ large over the rest of proceedings. Mack Hansen was a deserved Player of the Match.

Ireland’s control of the second half underlined their status as the world’s best team and Scotland will have to wait another 209 days before they can test themselves against them anew at the Stade de France in Paris in the Rugby World Cup.

Not even the loss of both their specialist hookers could upset Ireland and as Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie acknowledged in his immediate post-match TV interview, Scotland lacked a clinical edge when they needed it most.

BT Murrayfield observed a minute’s applause in memory of former Scotland Women internationalist Siobhan Cattigan who died in November 2021. The request had been made by her family.

Stuart Hogg’s 100th cap, Scotland aiming  for their first Triple Crown since 1990, Ireland still on course for a Grand Slam . . . what an enthralling concoction to set before a capacity crowd.

Hogg led out the Scotland team accompanied by his children Archie, Olivia and George, while Garry Ringrose led out the Ireland team to mark his 50th cap. Ringrose departed the field late in the match after a nasty contact in a tackle.

One final blast of emotion, as Archie, Stuart Hogg’s eldest child, delivered the match ball to thunderous acclaim, outpacing the BBC camera operator and waving to the supporters like a trooper.

Ireland kicked off towards the railway end and Jack Dempsey made a tasty hand off before Finn Russell fired an exquisite touchfinder towards the Ireland 22.

Scotland had some issues at the early lineouts, and it looked as if Ireland might have pilfered a try through Dan Sheehan but as a different ball had been used at the lineout, the score was ruled out.

Ireland did take the lead through a Johnny Sexton penalty for offside after Scotland had done well to repel percussive Irish close-range rumbles. (0-3, 12 mins).

Scotland’s response saw Dempsey and Pierre Schoeman carrying purposefully and Kyle Steyn and Hogg also threatening.

Hogg was bundled into touch five metres out and though Ireland won the lineout through Iain Henderson, van der Merwe caught and triggered wave after wave of Scotland attack.

The giant winger was involved three times. There were also pulverising carries from Schoeman, Scott Cummings on as a sub for the injured Richie Gray, and Zander Fagerson, a snipe from Ben White and Russell pulling the strings majestically.

BT Murrayfield erupted as White then unleashed Sione Tuipulotu whose silky smooth transference sent the prolific Huw Jones in for his 16th try for Scotland and fourth of the championship. Russell converted (7-3, 17 mins).

Van der Merwe went on another bulldozing surge before a Scotland handling error saw Ireland menace with Ringrose leading the charge.

But Steyn did well to get back and White cleared.

Ireland did retake the lead when sub Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony and James Ryan had carried and eventually Hugo Kennan threw out a miss pass which Mack Hansen pouched and did just enough to touch down in the corner in van der Merwe’s challenge. Sexton missed the conversion (7-8, 28 mins).

Van der Merwe was then pinged in a tackle from Keenan within five metres of the visitors’ line as Tuipulotu and Russell again combined gloriously. It felt like a crucial opportunity missed at the time and so it was to prove.

The pendulum swung again and this time it was Ireland on the attack, trying to maul over from the touchline, after Scotland were penalised through Schoeman and an offside, but George Turner pulled off a vital turnover and the hosts ended the half on the attack.

Jonny Gray made a break in midfield and Ireland were caught offside. It was probably just outwith Russell’s range to go for goal and Hogg reckoned the wind was problematic.

So, Russell opted for the touchline. Cummings caught, Tuipulotu made a barrelling run but Turner was denied on the touchline by Andrew Porter as he tried valiantly to keep the ball alive.

Half-time: Scotland 7-8 Ireland

A cheap side entry penalty enabled Ireland to find Scottish territory, but Sexton was held up in the tackle by Tuipulotu and Dempsey as the game resumed.

Russell had to police an Irish kick into Scotland’s in goal and followed Steyn’s example of marking a clearance, in the stand-off’s case from Hansen.

Jones made a couple of arcing breaks but Ireland won a breakdown penalty, advanced ten metres for back-chat.

Fortunately for Scotland, a knock-on thwarted Ireland’s attack, with Hansen ready to probe again in midfield.

Ireland extended their lead when Hansen leapt salmon-like to take a high ball from sub Jamison Gibson-Park’s hoist, the scrum-half having just joined the fray. Sexton supported and then there were a series of thumping drives before Gibson-Park’s looping miss-one pass sent James Lowe in for the score. Sexton converted (7-15, 57 mins).

Hogg did well to save within two metres of his line, but Ireland were now at their most persistent and efficient and it was Hansen as provider, who set up their next score with a smart miss-pass going left to right to send in Jack Conan for their third try. Sexton goaled again (7-22, 62 mins).

Scotland did deny the visitors a try bonus point but that was of little consequence given Ireland’s 14 unanswered second-half points.

Full-time: Scotland 7-22 Ireland


Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs); Kyle Steyn, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu (all Glasgow Warriors), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby); Finn Russell (Racing 92), Ben White (London Irish); Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby), George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray (all Glasgow Warriors), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) CAPTAIN, Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors).

Subs: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) for Turner (58 mins), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) for Schoeman (53 mins), Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) for Zander Fagerson (53 mins), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) for Richie Gray (7 mins), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) for White (58 mins), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) for Hogg (64 mins), Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) for Russell (79 mins).

Ireland: Hugo Kennan; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton CAPTAIN, Conor Murray; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh Van Der Flier, Caelen Doris.

Subs: Ronan Kelleher for Sheehan (18 mins), Cian Healy for Kelleher (48 mins), Tom O’Toole for Furlong (64 mins), Ryan Baird for Henderson (24 mins), Jack Conan for Doris (12 mins), Jamison Gibson-Park for Murray (53 mins), Ross Byrne for Sexton (71 mins), Robbie Henshaw for Aki (66 mins). Aki returned to the field for Ringrose (72 mins).

Referee: Luke Pearce (England).  Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes and Christophe Ridley (both England).  TMO: Stuart Terheege (England).

Crowd: 67,144

GUINNESS Player of the Match: Mack Hansen (Ireland).

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