Scotland were pipped 27-24 by the boot of Ireland’s Johnny Sexton in an empty Murrayfield, leaving Wales and France to battle it out for the Six Nations title.
The Scots needed to beat the Irish for the first time in four years on Sunday to stay in the title hunt but they couldn’t live with theirbogey team’s power and nous, exacerbated by too many errors – and Sexton eventually made them pay.
Maybe one of the moments of the match was an outrageous double step by Ireland tighthead Tadhg Furlong. The Leinsterman had spent over a year out the game prior to the tournament, and his unlikely sidestep was the talk of Twitter, where rugby fans of all colours and creeds rejoiced in the sight of the 19 stone plus prop gingerly sidestepping not one but two defenders.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 14, 2021
We'll always have those Furlong steps… pic.twitter.com/cwD0B8FVBC
— Pat McCarry (@patmccarry) March 14, 2021
Oh my Furlong. Is there a finer sight in this sport than a tight-head prop dancing around like a ballerina rhino
— Jamie Lyall (@JLyall93) March 14, 2021
— Des Cahill (@sportsdes) March 14, 2021
Ridiculously good dancing feet from Tadhg Furlong!! #SCOvIRL
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) March 14, 2021
Ultimately, Scotland left themselves too much to overcome even though they came back from 24-10 down after an hour to 24-all with just four minutes to go.
But Ireland restarted play with a deep kick-off, and Scotland halfback Ali Price’s kick was charged down by replacement lock Ryan Baird who also then smothered him up to secure a penalty.
Captain Sexton then lined up the 39-metre-kick from the left touchline and brilliantly slotted it for another match-winner.
Sexton yet again was a difference as Ireland scored two tries to three but the captain nailed six of his seven goal kicks with the seventh hitting a post.
The win was Ireland’s 18th in 22 matches with Scotland in the Six Nations era and gives them a chance to finish the tournament with top-half respectability after their worst start since 1998.
After an historic win over England at Twickenham on the opening weekend, the Scots have lost both of their home games.
To come, they have Italy and the postponed match against France, which could yet be a title decider.
But it will all become moot if Wales at least draw with France in Paris next weekend and claim the trophy.
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