Six Nations Live

Six Nations Live

IT Sat, Mar 10
 

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  • 16:38
    Evening all, it’s Noel O’Reilly on duty and we’re live at the Aviva for the penultimate chapter in Ireland’s Six Nations campaign. It’s been a decidedly mixed bag thus far, and you can’t help but wonder what might have been, but there’s an air of mystery about what to expect from a battle weary Irish outfit this evening. On paper, Ireland should have enough to put down the Scots, but the Six Nations isn’t played on paper. 

    Our Celtic cousins have travelled in their numbers and more in expectation rather than hope. Their error count may have Andy Robinson pulling his hair out, but how many of their five successive defeats could have gone the way but for a dropped pass or iffy decision. This is a side with the most line breaks, the most offloads in the Six Nations. Factor in a peerless lineout – the Scots are the only side in the competition with a 100 per cent record (with 33 out of 33) – and there is plenty to concern a depleted Irish outfit.

    The visitors may be almost 3-1 with the bookies but they have been talking up their chances in the two weeks they have had to recover from their defeat to France. A quick scan at the morning papers across the Irish Sea confirms as much – ‘Scots pressure can choke Irish hopes of revenge’, reckons the Scotsman – but a sixth successive defeat will have critics in Caledonia calling for the coaches head.

    Ireland may be in a better place  - the knives won’t be out for Declan Kidney just yet, regardless of tonight’s result - but the fans here in Dublin 4 still demand a performance worthy of the jersey. Yes, there are battered bodies after a gruelling schedule but no quarter will be given. Or asked for.
  • 16:42
    Team news: Having already lost Paul O’Connell, Conor Murray and Sean O’Brien in the wake of last Sunday’s draw in Paris, what news of Keith Earls. The centre’s groin strain has been a cause for concern all week long but he seems to be moving freely enough as Ireland go through their warm-up drills. In other news, Brian O’Driscoll, who could be back by the end of the month if reports are to be believed, has been giving his appraisal to the early arrivals in a pitchside interview. Diplomatic as ever, Drico reckons Ireland will win it, but only by a single score.

    Ireland:
    R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), K Earls (Munster), G D’Arcy (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); J Sexton (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), M Ross (Leinster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), D Ryan (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), P O’Mahony (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), T Court (Ulster), M McCarthy (Connacht), S Jennings (Leinster), T O’Leary (Munster), R O’Gara (Munster), F McFadden (Leinster).

    Scotland:
    S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); L Jones (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh), G Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), S Lamont (Scarlets); G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), M Blair (Edinburgh); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (capt, Edinburgh), G Cross (Edinburgh), R Gray (Glasgow Warriors), J Hamilton (Gloucester), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), R Rennie (Edinburgh), D Denton (Edinburgh). Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), E Murray (Newcastle), A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), R Vernon (Sale Sharks), C Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), M Evans (Castres).
  • 16:51
    And here come the teams, with Scotland emerging to the strains of the Rocky Road to Dublin (the original Dubliners version, mercifully). It certainly has been. Rory Best leads out Ireland to the Dropkick Murphys. How will Ireland’s new captain cope today? His lineout throwing has been average at best, can the Ulster hooker manage the added pressure of captaining his country.
  • 17:01
    1 min: Michael D has met all those involved, the anthems are out of the way and it’s game time.  The conditions couldn’t be better. March is supposed to come in like a lion, but you couldn’t ask for a better evening for rugby. Laidlaw gets us up and running.
  • 17:05
    3 mins: Nervy start for Eoin Reddan, who puts up a dodgy box kick which Ireland then knock on. Scotland get the put in to the first scrum – there’s a bit of messing around as the front rows meet and greet each other – and at the third time of asking Scotland finally get the free kick for an early engagement.
  • 17:06
    4 mins – Ireland 0 Scotland 3: First dumb mistake from the Scots. With acres of space out wide, the conjure a forward pass but play is brought back for a penalty which Laidlaw knocks over.
  • 17:07
    6 mins: Scotland full of early adventure here, but again are pinged for a forward pass. In fairness, looked alright from up here.
  • 17:09
    8 mins: First chance for Earls to stretch his legs, the Munster man chasing down his own kick, but Scotland rock solid so far and again look to go wide asap.
  • 17:11
    9 mins: Wave after wave of Scottish attack founders when Nick de Luca chucks his pass into touch before being smashed by Earls. But the ease with which Scotland moved from their own 22 into Irish territory is concerning.
  • 17:13
    10 mins - Ireland 0 Scotland 6: As is that! Ireland's first lineout is massively overthrown and the Scots are again on the attack. Ferris enters the ruck from a clearly offside position and that's an easy three points for Laidlaw.
  • 17:14
    12 mins: After Robinson aired his misgivings at to the legality of the choke tackle, how will referee Chris Pollock police that tactic. The answer is in Ireland’s favour as it is deployed to great affect just outside the Scottish 22.
  • 17:15
    13 mins: Sexton passes up an easy penalty at Best's behest, the skipper opting to go for the corner.
  • 17:18
    14 mins - Ireland 7 Scotland 6: And the Aviva erupts as a well-worked lineout move is fed back to the hooker who bulldozes over Mike player to touch down in the corner. Brave call from Best which is totally vindicated. Sexton, after a bit of foolishness from Sean Lamont who races out at boots the ball away, nails his kick  from the left touchline,
  • 17:21
    18 mins: Two more ropey kicks from Reddan hand the initiative right back to Scotland. But he visitors run out of ideas and Ferris brings Morrision down with a huge hit, allowing Ireland to clear.
  • 17:25
    21 mins: Scotland fall foul of Pollock for straying offside. It's out of Sexton's range though and Kearney knocks it down the line. Another good set piece with best again gettin his hands on the ball, good work from O'Mahony and Ryan, Ireland are close here.
  • 17:26
    22 mins: But Healy is called for not releasing and Scotland clear. Ireland are building into this game nicely though,
  • 17:29
    25 mins - Ireland 10 Scotland 6: Scotland penalised at a scrum for coming in at an angle. This is well within Sexton's range and the outhalf puts a little daylight between the teams.
  • 17:31
    27 mins: Yet another forward pass from the visitors. Again, their play in general has been excellent but sloppy mistakes are killing their momentum.
  • 17:33
    29 mins: Having said that, Ryan spills the ball in contact, Rennie hoofs it forward and all of sudden Ireland are defending on their own line.
  • 17:35
    30 mins: Scotland are battering away at that irish line, with the home side conceding a string of penalties with Scotland opting for touch each time. Best is worried that the next penalty will result in a yellow card.
  • 17:38
    33 mins: - Ireland 10 Scotland 9: Bizarre decision from the Scots. With the threat of a yellow hanging over Ireland, and their lineout lording it over Ireland, Laidlaw chooses to kick for the posts. Sure, the gap is down to a point but surely there was more of offer for the Blue shirts.
  • 17:40
    34 mins – Ireland 17 Scotland 9: Scotland’s lack of ambition comes back to haunt them as Ireland march down the other end of the pitch before Reddan scampers under the attempted tackle to cross for Ireland’s second try. The conversion is a carbon copy of Sexton’s first effort, and Ireland lead by eight.
  • 17:43
    38 mins – Ireland 17 Scotland 14: What a try from Richie Gray! The giant second row barges through Reddan’s tackle before selling Kearney the dummy of this Six Nations. You can’t take your eyes of this contest for a minute. Laidlaw’s conversion comes back off the upright.
  • 17:48
    40 mins – Ireland 22 Scotland 14:  Andrew Trimble squeezes over in the corner as this game just gets better and better. Kearney will be breathing a sigh of relief as the fullback butchered an overlap earlier in the move, taking the ball into contact when Bowe was clear on his outside. Still, mustn’t nitpick.
  • 17:49
    40 mins – half-time: Phew! It’s been thrill a minute stuff with both sides contributing to a wonderful contest. Ireland have landed the heavier blows but Scotland are right in this. Right, I’m off to catch my breath.
  • 17:55
    Half-time oranges: Little in the way of half time entertainment at the Aviva but it does afford Drico the opportunity to add his tuppence worth on the sideline. “Three tries to one is pretty good going for the first half,” reckons the great man, before warning against any complacency. “They’ll be inside in the dressing room thinking it’s 0-0,” he adds. "If we come out with the mentality that it's 0-0 we're in a good place."
  • 18:00
    41 mins: And we’re back, a few empty spaces as the stragglers make their way back from the bars as Sexton restarts.
  • 18:04
    44 mins: Any notion that Ireland would try and tighten things up are dispelled straight away as both sides continue to play with gay abandon. A lengthy passage of play is brought to a halt as Scotland are penalised on the half-way line for killing it at ruck-time.
  • 18:05
    45 mins: Kearney sends the penalty to the Scottish five metre line, but Best's throw is crooked and Scotland get the scrum.
  • 18:08
    46 mins: Ireland get a taste of their own medicine as Kearney brings the ball into contact and is held up by a bevy of Scottish defenders. Pollock has no option but to award a scrum for a well executed choke tackle.
  • 18:13
    49 mins: Another wonderful passage of play from Ireland ends up with a penalty in front of the posts. The crowd think three points, but Sexton has other ideas and sends over a cross field kick to Tommy Bowe, the winger gathers but is held up as he tries to ground the ball.
  • 18:16
    52 mins: How this half has remained scoreless is a mystery, but there's no lack of entertainment out there. Gordon D'Arcy won't enjoying seeing that again though as the Ireland centre drops a simple pass to hand possession back to the visitors.
  • 18:19
    54 mins: Tommy Bowe is lucky to escape a yellow as he tackles his opponent high, and without the ball. It's just a penalty though.
  • 18:20
    53 mins: And here comes the closer. Ronan O'Gara is waiting on the touchline with D'Arcy making way and Sexton shifting to number 12. Cronin also on for Best, who had a fine day at the office.
  • 18:22
    56 mins: O'Gara's first touch is a ranging touchfinder after O'Mahony scavenged a turnover at the breakdown. Scotland are building up a head of steam but the Irish defence is holding fast for the time being.
  • 18:24
    58 mins: It's not job done yet, but the Fields gets it's first airing of the night. Scotland still looking for a gap but they're being pushed back towards the halfway line.
  • 18:28
    60 mins: O'Gara, who has assumed the leadership duties in Best's absence, gets a final warning (that's Ireland's second final warning) as Ireland continue to try Pollock's patience.
  • 18:30
    61 mins: Allan Jacobsen tries to pick a fight with Ferris before thinking better of it. Scotland are deep in Ireland's 22 but can't quite find a way through,
  • 18:31
    62 mins: Sickening clash of heads as Trimble flies into a challenge on Lee Jones. The Scot is out cold and will play no further part in this game. Trimble is up and about but looks a touch groggy.
  • 18:35
    63 mins:  Jones is stretchered off after receiving lengthy treatment from the medical staff. Let's hope it's nothing too serious but it didn't look good for the winger. No question of any malice in Trimble's challenge and there's no action from the New Zealand official.
  • 18:37
    63 mins: Play resumes with a scrum to Ireland. That break in play could have taken the sting out of this Scottish attack.
  • 18:40
    Huge rolling maul from Ireland brings play up to the Scottish 22.
  • 18:42
    67 mins:  Huge rolling maul from Ireland brings play up to the Scottish 22, but Healy is deemed to have held on when caught in the tackle. Ireland playing rugby in the right areas now.
  • 18:47
    72 mins – Ireland 25 Scotland 14: Ireland, who have had the edge at the scrum, win a penalty in sight of the posts. O’Gara hands the ball to Sexton and from wide on the left touchline the younger man splits the posts. Incredibly, they’re the first points of a pulsating second half from either side.
  • 18:49
    74 mins: Earls is clipped by Max Evans as he chipped away but the referee opts against a penalty try. Evans does get a yellow card for his trouble though.
  • 18:52
    75 mins: Ross Ford accuses the referee of costing Scotland the game with his decision to sin bin Evans. Sure that’s the sort of backchat you’d expect from the soccer crowd. No place for it in the game. Down with this sort of thing.
  • 18:55
    77 mins - Ireland 32 Scotland 14: The fat lady is clearing her throat as McFadden burrows over right under the posts. The replacement puts the result beyond any doubt after a series of scrums drained the Scots' energy.
  • 18:58
    Full-time: And there you have it. Impressive all round performance after a sluggish start and a well-deserved win. No hard luck stories for the Scots on this occasion as they were simply beaten by the better side. That’s it from here, Johnny Watterson will be filing his match report presently and we’ll have all the reaction from the Aviva, including video analysis from Gerry Thornley, before the night is out.