By Gary Watton
February 9 2017
Underdogs Scotland took a leaf out of Ireland's book by defending exceptionally well and then proving to be lethal on the rare occasions when they were on the attack. Irish teams have often managed to overturn the form book with similar behaviour and success, so they can't complain too much about this mugging. Scotland were simply clinical. They hit the ground running, as less fancied teams need to do, and more crucially they put scores on the board that left their hyped visitors with a large mountain to climb.
Predictably, Ireland eventually got their act together, but not before they had conceded fourteen points. There then followed a passage of play which perfectly summed up the afternoon's proceedings. It took about forty phases amidst determined Scottish resistance before the flying Keith Earls squeezed over in the corner for an ultimate reward of five points. Shortly afterwards, the hosts then replied with the softest of tries from a sneaky line-out manoeuvre which resulted in seven points. In other words, much Irish graft had only yielded five points, whilst a quick Scottish raid produced a maximum of seven.
The away team commendably worked their way into the narrowest of leads, courtesy of converted tries for the Ulster duo of Henderson and Jackson, but just when the Oirish should then have sealed the deal and put the contest to bed, the home team summoned reserves and succeeded in eking out two Laidlaw penalties whilst also starving the hapless away team of much-needed possession.
At least the vanquished emerged with a bonus point, by virtue of this narrow margin, but this will be little consolation for a team that was widely tipped to be challenging England for a possible Grand Slam. In reality, the fancied horse could not even surmount the first hurdle.
Scotland 27 IRELAND 22; in Edinburgh; Saturday the 4th of February 2017.
14 Earls [TRY]
10 Jackson (TRY, one penalty, two conversions)
4 Henderson [TRY]
2 Best (captain)
Used replacements: Healy, Dillane, Van der Flier, Bowe, Ryan