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An Excellent Finish

Earls's Try

By Gary Watton
March 20 2016

After struggling to record points and more particularly tries in their first three outings, a depleted Irish team ended their difficult Six Nations campaign with two very good wins that should go some way towards atoning for a miserable February. In fact, as the weather has improved, so too has the quality of the Irish fifteen's performances. Whilst Italia could be palmed off as rank outsiders at present, Scotland by contrast are an improving bunch, so a ten-point victory margin against them was more than satisfactory. As a result, the champions of 2014 and 2015 at least ascended to a respectable third in the European pecking order.

Admittedly, Ireland's cause was greatly assisted by Scottish indiscretions which culminated in two decisive sin bin stints. As a consequence the hosts were able to ruthlessly cash in on their numerical superiority, not least when they scored two tries in quick succession towards the end of the first half. Scotland remarkably displayed a knack of scoring points each and every time that they made a rare foray deep into Irish territory, which rendered an interval lead of only eight points a little frustrating from an Irish point of view, given the home team's monopoly of possession and territorial dominance. It was in fact a scintillating break and solo try from the dangerous Hogg which kept the Scots in the contest, but having briefly taken the lead, their efforts were undone by a piece of Laurel and Hardy defending which enabled Keith Earls to cruise over the try line.

Then in the second half, the away team proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot by foolishly trying to run the ball from their own twenty-two time and again. Nevertheless, the visitors only lost the try count four-three and they refused to capitulate.

As for the men in green, their standout contributor was probably CJ Stander, one of three Munster men to score a try. In fact, it is hard to see a way back into the team for the injured O'Mahony, now that CJ has made such a great impression. Elsewhere it was good to see big Devon Toner cap a fine display by crashing over for his first international try.

High-flying Ireland have set such high standards for themselves over the course of the last dozen years that this year's campaign might be viewed as a failure. I beg to differ. The national team still possesses many good players and many good reinforcements. There is frequently a fine line between success and failure, and in an injury-ravaged season, this makeshift XV came up just short on a couple of occasions and certainly did not disgrace themselves.


IRELAND 35 Scotland 25; in Dublin; Saturday the 19th of March 2016.

15 Zebo

14 Trimble

13 Payne

12 Henshaw

11 Earls [TRY]

10 Sexton [3 penalties, 3 conversions]

9 Murray [TRY]

8 Heaslip

7 O'Donnell

6 Stander [TRY]

5 Toner [TRY]

4 Ryan

3 Ross

2 Best (captain)

1 McGrath

Used replacements: White; Healy; Strauss; Dillane; Ruddock; McFadden; Reddan

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Ireland (IP Logged)
20/03/2016 13:39
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