Scotland 24 Ireland 27
CAPTAIN Johnny Sexton secured a famous victory for Ireland with a late penalty from the touchline in Sunday’s exciting Six Nations encounter at Murrayfield to deny the home side a great comeback after they had come back from 24-10 down.
Ireland started brightly, with James Lowe making an incision up the left wing, in a move that ended up with Scotland conceding a penalty underneath their own sticks, which Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton slotted in the third minute to give Ireland an early advantage.
Ireland then scored a fortuitous try in the 7th minute when Robbie Henshaw gleefully grounded the ball in the Scottish in-goal area after Keith Earls, Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris had all jumped to claim a high speculative kick from Sexton, only for the ball to spill invitingly for the Leinster inside centre.
Scotland had their first attack soon after with out-half Finn Russell kicking an 11th-minute penalty to keep his side in touch.
In the 27th minute, it was the Scots' turn to score a lucky try, although poor Irish play was also a major contributing factor to the score.
CJ Stander had won a brilliant turnover out near the right touchline, and for some reason centre Garry Ringrose decided to kick away possession immediately, with his kick being charged down by Stuart Hogg.
The Scottish captain then hacked the ball ahead and when Finn Russell did the same Ireland winger James Lowe failed to gather, instead popping the ball straight up into the air, for Russell to gather easily and score under the posts.
Ireland responded well to this concession, with Sexton landing a 34th-minute penalty from 35m after brilliant work from Keith Earls and Tadhg Beirne to force the turnover penalty, although Beirne did concede a soft penalty at lineout time just three minutes later, only for Russell to miss the resultant kick at goal.
In the last play of the half Ireland put some real pace on the ball, and forced a Scottish infringement in midfield, which allowed Sexton to kick another penalty to leave the score at 10-14 to Ireland at half time.
Ireland turned down a couple of kickable penalties at the start of the second half and were rewarded when Tadhg Beirne crashed over from close range in the 48th minute to give Ireland a healthy 10-21 lead.
The key to Ireland’s dominance was the capitulation of the Scottish lineout, with them really struggling to build any momentum as a result, and Sexton was able to slot another penalty in the 54th minute to further stretch Ireland’s lead.
Just when Ireland thought they had the job done the Scots struck for a well-worked try on the hour mark, with Stuart Hogg feeding Huw Jones, and the replacement centre burst straight through a feeble tackle attempt from James Lowe to score.
The home side now had their tails up, and despite having to play Stuart Hogg at out-half and reserve scrum-half Scott Steele at flanker, they managed a 73rd minute try from Hamish Watson from close range, which Hogg converted to level the scores at 24-24.
Almost instantly Ireland were awarded a penalty, which Sexton nailed from the touchline in the 76th minute, and Ireland led once more.
Russell (1 try, 1 pen, 1 con), Hogg (2 cons), Jones and Watson (1 try each)
Sexton (5 pens, 1 con), Henshaw and Beirne (1 try each)
Hogg, Maitland, Harris, Johnson, van der Merwe, Russell, Price; Sutherland, Turner, Nel, Cummings, Gray, Ritchie, Watson, Fagerson.
Jones for Harris (55), Berghan and Gilchrist for Nel and Gray (57), Haining and Graham for Ritchie and Russell (62), Cherry for Turner (63), Steele for Cummins (65), Bhatti for Sutherland (67)
Keenan, Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe, Sexton (capt), Gibson-Park; Healy, Herring, Furlong, Henderson, Ryan, Beirne, Connors, Stander.
Kilcoyne and Porter for Healy and Furlong (55), Kelleher and Conan for Herring and Beirne (63), Larmour for Lowe (68), Baird for Ryan (70).
Romain Poite (France).