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'It was immense': Farrell hails Ireland's win as best he's seen after injury crisis

By PA
Jack Conan of Ireland scores his side's third try despite the tackle of Duhan van der Merwe of Scotland during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Scotland and Ireland at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Andy Farrell praised the character of his Grand Slam-chasing Ireland side after they overcame the loss of five players to injury on their way to a hard-fought 22-7 win over Scotland.

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The Irish had to replace Dan Sheehan, Caelan Doris and Iain Henderson in the opening 24 minutes at BT Murrayfield and then found themselves playing the closing half hour without a recognised hooker after Ronan Kelleher – who had taken over from Sheehan in the first half – went off early in the second half, leaving prop Cian Healy to deputise at hooker.

The Irish suffered further woe in the closing stages when Garry Ringrose – on his 50th cap – was taken off on a stretcher with an oxygen mask on after suffering a head injury. By that point, the Irish were on course for a crucial victory after tries from Mack Hansen, James Lowe and Jack Conan cancelled out Huw Jones’ score for the Scots.

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“It was immense, the character,” said Farrell. “Obviously it wasn’t champagne rugby all round but as far as character and fight and want for each other, that’s the best game I’ve ever been involved in.

“If you’d have seen us at half-time you’d have laughed. The whole team was laughing because it was organised chaos. We didn’t know what was happening until the last second, whether Ronan was coming back on or not and we made half a plan with Cian. It was deserved for somebody like Garry on his 50th cap that we were able to do a special performance against all the controversy.”

Farrell will assess his injured players this week, although he had positive news on Ringrose.

“I was texting his mother and father, there, because they’re very concerned,” he said. “There were safety checks and precautions, there, around necks but he was up and talking so, hopefully, he’s going to be fine.”

The victory in Edinburgh leaves Ireland with the chance to secure their first Grand Slam in five years if they defeat England in Dublin on Saturday.

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“It is what dreams are made of. To play England at home on the last weekend, on St Paddy’s weekend, for a Grand Slam, it doesn’t get any better than that,” said Farrell.

“We’ll have a few down days to get our legs back and then we’ll have a hit-out or two and get our plan together and make sure we’re in the right space for training.”

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Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was frustrated with the way his team let things slip in the second half after trailing by just one point at the interval.

“I am very disappointed with that second half,” he said. “The first half was a very good Test match – a very good Test match that went end to end. I felt we were on it.

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“The players were a bit deflated they were not leading at half-time but that happens. We managed to stop Ireland scoring a couple of times in the first half and a couple of times they stopped us.

“It is just disappointing that the second half was not as competitive or the same energy level from us and Ireland got ahead. We chased the game, maybe we had to, maybe it was too early to chase the game, but we were not happy with that last 15-minute performance.”

Scotland lost Richie Gray to injury after just six minutes while key duo Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, who won his 100th cap, both went off in the closing quarter with injuries. All three face checks to assess their availability for Saturday’s match at home to Italy.

“Richie seems okay, it was a popped rib but we won’t know until he has a scan or X-ray,” said Townsend. “Finn was carrying a knee injury and Hoggy had an ankle injury. Both of them will get scans or X-rays to see if it’s anything that will rule them out next week.”

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Turlough 4 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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