Ireland survive Scottish fightback

Ireland triumph at Murrayfield with much-needed Six Nations win despite second-half Scottish rally.

    Jamie Heaslip strolls over the line for Ireland's first try on six minutes [GALLO/GETTY]

    Ireland secured a much-needed rugby union Six Nations win at Murrayfield on Sunday, running in three tries to set up a 21-18 victory over Scotland.

    A superb performance from veteran fly-half Ronan O'Gara inspired the Irish victory, with the 33-year old, who was recalled to win his 106th cap, scoring 11 points with a try and three conversions to go alongside first-half tries from Jamie Heaslip and Eoin Reddan.

    Scotland stayed in the game with Chris Paterson sending over 15 points with the boot and Dan Parks adding a drop goal.

    The result leaves the Scots still without a point from three games. Ireland joined Wales and France on four points, two behind leaders England, who beat France 17-9 on Saturday and who remain on course for a Grand Slam.


    The Irish could have been well clear by half-time but a large penalty count, which cost the team dear in their 25-22 defeat to France a fortnight ago, held them back again.

    "It was very tight, but that has been our tournament so far with just one score difference in all three matches (13-11 win over Italy and a 25-22 defeat by France)," said man of the match O’Gara.

    "In the end it comes down to one's tactics and one's intensity. We were very good at times today and at others we were very poor."

    Scotland flyhalf Ruaridh Jackson had missed a long-range penalty by the time Heaslip cantered over in the sixth minute, running on to Rory Best's short pass to dot down after a series of close-quarter attacks left Scotland's defence open.

    Paterson, one of the most deadly goal-kickers in world rugby, took over kicking duties for Scotland and landed two penalties in the space of two minutes to make it 7-6 by the 17th.

    Easy try

    Ireland's second try was also softly conceded from Scotland's point of view. Heaslip picked the ball up from the base of the scrum and, after handing off a couple of would-be tacklers, offloaded for Reddan to nudge over from five yards.

    Another cleanly struck penalty from Paterson, in the 32nd, left the Scots just 14-9 down by half-time but they found themselves in trouble four minutes into the second period when prop Allan Jacobsen was sin-binned for repeated infringements at the scrum.

    In his absence, Ireland scored their third try, O'Gara collecting Reddan's pass and handing off Scotland hooker Ross Ford before charging over to ground underneath the posts, making his third successful conversion even simpler.

    But Scotland weren't quite finished. Paterson kicked a fourth penalty for 21-12 and Parks came on for Jackson to kick a long-range three-pointer in the 66th, moving Scotland within a converted try of victory.

    With Ireland visibly rattled, a drop goal from Parks then made it 21-18 with 12 minutes left but the visitors held on.

    Scotland coach Andy Robinson was left fuming that despite conceding 12 penalties the Irish had not had one player sin-binned.

    "With the penalty count there should have been (the Scots only gave away four)," said the former England coach.

    "I was pleased with our attitude and commitment and the skills are improving so we have a lot to build on and to work on." 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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