Ireland ended their Six nations on a high as they overcame Scotland 35-25 in Dublin
Stuart Hogg opened the try scoring with a contender for try of the season
Scores from CJ Stander and Keith Earls though gave the Irish a 21-13 lead at the break
Conor Murray and Devin Toner touched down after the break to secure the win for Joe Schmidt’s men
Ireland launched a stirring comeback towards the end of the first-half to complete a turnaround against Scotland and sign off their Six Nations campaign with a win at the Aviva Stadium.
Tries today from CJ Stander, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Devin Toner – punctuated by some very good kicking by Johnny Sexton – saw Ireland through a comfortable win that only looked in danger after a storming first-half try by Scotland’s Stuart Hogg that put the Scots 9-10 up.
All in all, Ireland always looked the stronger outfit – and were certainly aided by two Scottish yellow cards, racking up 19 points while playing against 14 men.
The man advantage worked against Ireland late in the game then, as Dunbar pulled a try back for Scotland to finish the game at 35-25 to Ireland, seconds after Johnny Sexton had been sin binned. Richie Gray scored the visitors other second half try
Ireland is now unbeaten in their last nine Six Nations home games and will finish third in the competition if England overcomes France in Paris this evening.
Jonny Sexton, as he so often does, opened the scoring in Dublin when he knocked over a three-pointer after five minutes. The kick took the fly-half beyond David Humphreys Ireland tally of 560, moving him up to second in the all-time point scorers for the men in green.
The number 10 missed his next attempt at goal but didn’t have to wait long to make up for his miss as he edged the hosts further in front after 12 minutes, 6-0.
Scotland captain Laidlaw though responded two minutes later for the away side with his opening kick to reduce the deficit to three points.
Sexton though took under a minute to profit from the visitors ill-discipline, re-establishing the hosts six-point lead, 9-3
Hogg though then popped up with a brilliant individual score, breaking from inside his own half to dive over. The try reduced the deficit to a single point with 20 minutes gone before Laidlaw added the extras to give the Dark Blues the lead for the first time.
The hosts then replied with some serious pressure, which resulted in John Barclay being sin-binned following continuous infringements from the Scots’ deep inside their own 22.
Ireland, with the man advantage, eventually got past the visitors resilient defence with Stander being the man to finally force the hosts over and score their opening try after 28 minutes. Sexton then added the extras confidently, 16-10.
One minute later the men in green were in for try number two as a comical piece of defending that saw Hogg and Tommy Seymour get tangled up resulted in Earls being able to stroll in unchallenged on his 50th test. Sexton though this time couldn’t convert, but the Irish had opened up an 11-point lead.
Laidlaw struck a penalty with the last kick of the half to reduce the deficit to eight points heading into half time, 21-13
Both sides started the second half with ambition but it was Murray who eventually sniped over from close range after 49 minutes, becoming the first Irish scrum-half to score three tries in a Six Nations match. Sexton then added the extras, 28-13.
Scotland replied eight minutes later when the ball was recycled to Richie Gray, who hit an enormous gap in the midfield to canter over between the poles untouched. Laidlaw then slotted the simple conversion to reduce the gap to eight points.
Cotter’s men though lost Alex Dunbar, who twisted Sexton onto his back at the ruck and was shown a yellow card for it. Two minutes later Toner crashed over from close range for Ireland’s crucial fourth try. Sexton then knocked over the conversion to give the hosts a healthy buffer, 35-20.
The Ireland fly-half’s day though would end in the sin-bin with Dunbar, who had been back on for less than a minute, soon after taking advantage to get in the corner for the score. Laidlaw though could not convert as Scotland lost out 35-25.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ireland: CJ Stander
Ireland: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Nathan White, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Hardie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Moray Low, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Sean Lamont
Date: Saturday, March 19
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)