Webster Scores But Scotland Defeated
Simon Webster ended Scotland’s try drought by crossing the whitewash at Croke Park but despite enjoying large periods of possession Scotland still suffered a 34-13 defeat against Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations.Simon Webster ended Scotland’s try drought by crossing the whitewash at Croke Park but despite enjoying large periods of possession Scotland still suffered a 34-13 defeat against Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations. Scotland constantly probed Ireland’s defence with a purposeful brand of keep the ball alive rugby, but unfortunately Frank Hadden’s men were unable to translate possession into points. As a result, Ireland soaked up the pressure and hammered Scotland with a series of slick counter-attacking moves; scoring tries against the run of play. Scotland enjoyed a bright start with enterprising play from Webster in midfield rattling Ireland with some purposeful forays into Irish territory. With Nathan Hines and Scott MacLeod looking majestic at the setpiece, Scotland stole two early lineouts and an off-loading brand of rugby from the visitors tested the home defence. The pressure resulted in an early penalty, but instead of pointing towards the posts, Scotland pushed further towards the Irish line. But Ireland’s stern defence blocked Scotland’s expansive approach play and somehow the hosts escaped without conceding a try. With Scotland in the ascendancy, Ireland fronted up and attempted to use their revered pack to move up the pitch, but the men in dark blue still looked hungrier. When Ireland managed to conjure up a rare attacking move, Scotland flanker Allister Hogg was on hand with a timely interception to keep the home side at bay. Led by new captain Mike Blair, Scotland’s policy of keeping the ball alive worked well while cranking up the pressure with a genuine sense of urgency. As a result, in the opening quarter of the game Scotland enjoyed a far greater amount of territory than their opponents. But Ireland managed to take the lead against the run of play when flanker David Wallace slipped through under the posts past Kelly Brown when Scotland failed to defend from a scrum. Ronan O’Gara added the extras leaving Scotland trailing by seven points, but the visitors were awarded a penalty moments later when Bernard Jackman was penalised for not rolling away. The flawless goalkicking technique of Chris Paterson helped Scotland to reduce the deficit and made it 24 successful international attempts in a row for the experienced stand-off. But in an eventful first half, Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll combined with Rob Kearney to punish Scotland with the winger crossing the whitewash. All after Scotland had failed to follow-up a Blair box-kick with the necessary venom. O’Gara converted the try to leave Scotland trailing 14-3. Wallace was then penalised for handling in a ruck to give Paterson another chance to put some points on the board for Scotland to make it 14-6; an inaccurate reflection of the events that had unfolded on the pitch. As half-time beckoned Scotland were pressing on the Irish line and had been awarded a penalty by French referee Berdos. Cue then an exaggerated swinging arm attempt by Nathan Hines to prise the ball from Ireland’s grasp. On the intervention of Welsh touch-judge Hugh Watkins, the penalty was reversed, Hines got a ticking-off and a golden chance was blown. If that wasn’t bad enough Scotland’s slipshod work at the restart kick-off enabled O’Gara’s crossfield kick to find prop Marcus Horan, who powered over from close range. Ross Rennie, 21, then made his Scotland debut when he replaced Kelly Brown, who had a rib injury, in the back row and the youngster produced a huge hit on O’Driscoll to show his readiness for the fray. A penalty from O’Gara pushed Ireland past the 20-point mark leaving Scotland to chase a huge difference. But Webster scored a much-needed try for Scotland after the Edinburgh back punched a hole in Ireland’s defence; striding clear to touch down underneath the posts from the most intelligent of soft-hands offloads from his fellow centre Andrew Henderson. Paterson’s conversion left Scotland needing to accumulate nine points in order to restore parity; triggering a grandstand finish in Dublin. Despite enjoying the majority of possession and working through the phases, Ireland struck once more with a quick-fire counter attack finished off by Tommy Bowe. O’Gara’s conversion took Ireland to 29-13 and severely dented Scotland’s chances of staging a comeback. To heighten Scotland’s misery, lock Jim Hamilton, who had only been on the field a short while, was stretchered off the pitch with a leg injury. Then Bowe scored with a last-minute try to seal Ireland’s success by five tries to one. As Frank Hadden later reflected elementary errors had cost Scotland dear but if the players can build on the tempo with which they played for much of this game and find a cutting edge in the midst of yet more injury problems, then England at Murrayfield need not be viewed with trepidation. Ireland: Geordan Murphy; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (captain), Andrew Trimble, Robert Kearney; Ronan O’Gara, Eoin Reddan; Marcus Horan, Bernard Jackman, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Denis Leamy, Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace. Subs (all used): Rory Best, Tony Buckley, Paul O’Connell, Simon Easterby, Peter Stringer, Paddy Wallace, Shane Horgan Scotland: Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh); Rory Lamont (Sale Sharks), Simon Webster (Edinburgh), Andrew Henderson (Glasgow Warriors), Nikki Walker (Ospreys); Chris Paterson (Gloucester), Mike Blair (Edinburgh) CAPTAIN; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford (both Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Nathan Hines (Perpignan), Scott MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Allister Hogg (Edinburgh) Subs (all used): Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors), Gavin Kerr (Edinburgh), Jim Hamilton (Leciester Tigers), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan), Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh). Referee: Christophe Berdos (France) Attendance: 74,234. RBS Man of the Match: Geordan Murphy (Ireland). Our picture shows Scotland centre Andrew Henderson looking to offload on the attack.