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Ireland edge past Scotland to win back-to-back Six Nations titles

By PA
Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony, right, and Tadhg Furlong lift the Six Nations trophy after the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland became back-to-back Guinness Six Nations champions by crushing Scotland’s quest for a first Triple Crown in 34 years with a scrappy 17-13 win.

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Andy Farrell’s hosts were well below their free-flowing best in Dublin but avoided any major ‘Super Saturday’ drama to retain the championship title.

Andrew Porter’s second-half try fatally broke the resistance of the stubborn Scots to ignite the St Patrick’s weekend celebrations and satisfy an expectant capacity crowd at the Aviva Stadium.

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Hooker Dan Sheehan set Ireland on course for glory – and a 10th successive win over Scotland – with an opportunistic first-half score, while Jack Crowley kicked seven points.

A pair of first-half Finn Russell penalties meant Gregor Townsend’s men trailed just 7-6 at the break and he added a late conversion following Huw Jones’ consolation try.

Match Summary

1
Penalty Goals
2
2
Tries
1
2
Conversions
1
0
Drop Goals
0
152
Carries
93
4
Line Breaks
4
21
Turnovers Lost
14
3
Turnovers Won
7

Yet the Scots were powerless to prevent Ireland bouncing back from the disappointment of their dream of successive Grand Slams being agonisingly ended by England last weekend.

Underdogs Scotland crossed the Irish Sea with a slender chance of snatching the title but realistically seeking to secure a first Triple Crown since 1990 following a chastening round-four loss to Italy.

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Their mission to rip up the script began in positive fashion thanks to an early Russell penalty before Sheehan was gifted his fifth try of the tournament by George Turner’s overthrown lineout.

The fortunate 13th-minute score, converted by Crowley, did little to settle Irish nerves and the fired-up Scots kept up the pressure with another three points from Russell’s boot.

Farrell’s men were struggling to gain meaningful territory during a cagey opening period punctuated with errors and frequent kicking exchanges amid a subdued atmosphere.

Crowley squandered a long-range penalty to stretch the slender advantage as resolute Scotland remained relatively untroubled, while offering a threat on the counter attack.

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Ireland, who had been forced to replace injured full-back Hugo Keenan with Jordan Larmour just before kick-off, trudged down the tunnel leading by only a single point and with major room for improvement.

Scotland head coach Townsend acknowledged pre-match that his side needed to produce “something special” to spoil the Irish party and bounce back from a dismal display in Rome.

Crowley made their uphill task slightly harder with a straightforward penalty before the visitors received a major reprieve when Tadhg Furlong’s apparent touch down was chalked off following a lengthy review as referee Matthew Carley deemed the ball had been dislodged.

Heroic last-ditch defending was the only thing preventing a rampant home side showing renewed purpose from fully taking control of the contest.

Scotland flanker Andy Christie superbly halted the weaving Calvin Nash with the try line in touching distance before rusty Ireland replacement Garry Ringrose inexplicably fumbled.

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Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll

Ringrose, making his first appearance of the tournament following a shoulder injury, atoned with a lung-busting intercept run which led to Ireland’s crucial second try.

Robbie Henshaw was adjudged to have been held up on the line in the immediate aftermath before Porter subsequently powered over from a tap-and-go penalty following a yellow card for Ewan Ashman.

Supporters responded with a rousing rendition of the Fields of Athenry, fully believing the job was done.

However, home fans were forced to endure a nervy final couple of minutes after replacement fly-half Harry Byrne was sin binned for a head-on-head challenge on Russell and Scotland centre Jones broke clear to touch down.

Ireland duly avoided any further issues to jubilantly celebrate a fifth championship title in 11 years – and sixth overall – to underline their status as the northern hemisphere’s leading nation.

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Comments

3 Comments
A
Alec 124 days ago

Congrats to the Irish and on the eve of St Patricks day ☘️! Scotland kept it close what a late surge made the most of that sin bin time! Can’t for the tours this summer!

A
Ace 124 days ago

Congrats to Ireland. But for an injury time drop, it would’ve been an unprecedented back-to-back Grand Slam.

Notwithstanding, they did what they had to do and came away with another title.

Looking forward to their trip to SA.

c
craig 124 days ago

Scotland only 4 points away from being the best team in the world.

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Jon 1 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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