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RBS 6 Nations 2011: Scotland 18-21 Ireland, Match Review

Scotland came oh-so-close to clawing themselves back into their RBS 6 Nations 2011 match with Ireland on the afternoon of Sunday 27th February 2011, as they finished, agonisingly, three points short of their visitors, 18-21, at Murrayfield Stadium.

Scotland had the first chance to score three points, but Jackson missed a penalty, before Heaslip collected from a ruck right on Scotland’s line to score the opening try of the match for Ireland. O’Gara converted the try, giving Ireland a 7-0 lead which looked ominous given Scotland’s only real hope of winning this match lay in their keeping the visitors out and responding with three point opportunities.

Chris Paterson, however, back in the side after his injury problems, scored two penalties to display why Scotland cannot be discounted when he is on the park.

Scotland, having got themselves back to within a point, then undid their good work by failing to win their own lineout deep in their 22. The scrum which resulted soon after provided the platform from which Reddan, the Ireland scrum half, grabbed another try, right under the posts after 27 minutes.

O’Gara didn’t miss the easy opportunity to add two more points.

Another lengthy penalty from Paterson put Scotland back within five points of Ireland, however, when he knocked over a kick from the 10 metre line nine minutes before half time, while O’Gara narrowly missed a slightly more difficult opportunity a few minutes later.

Ireland came very close to landing what might have been a killer blow on the stroke of half time as Keith Earls sprinted onto the ball and was only just toe-tapped into touch when darting for the Scottish line.

An entertaining first half ended 9-14.

Early in the second half, Scotland’s prop Alan Jacobsen was sin-binned for boring in at the scrummage offering Ireland a power play that they took advantage of when Ronan O’Gara burst through and put the ball under the posts, before converting his own try to take the Irish lead to 9-21.

But another Irish infringement allowed Paterson to strike his fourth penalty, on 57 minutes, to narrow the gap to 12-21.

Dan Parks had come onto the field to replace Jackson for the final 25 minutes. His first contribution was to kick a long penalty, from just inside the Irish half, which flicked the post en route to three more Scotland points, 15-21.

With a penalty advantage signalled, Dan Parks slotted a good drop goal over for three more points in the 70th minute, giving Scotland, at 18-21, fully ten minutes to find the three points they required to level the match.

Unfortunately for the home support, Scotland failed to retain possession in the final 10, and Ireland were clever in working through the phases, and eating up the clock, most professionally. The men in green were happy for Sexton to boot the ball into touch as soon as the 80 minutes passed, and get off the field with another narrow 6 Nations victory.

Scotland will be disappointed to have given away such soft tries in the opening half, though Ireland must congratulate themselves on a job well done today: they took their opportunities, when presented, and restricted Scotland to only a handful of penalties. With slightly more discipline at the breakdown, or anything less than great kicking from the hosts, Ireland could easily have been home by ten or more points today, so their victory is fully deserved.

Scotland v Ireland – RBS 6 Nations 2011 – Points Breakdown

Scotland 18-21 Ireland
  (9-14)  
Penalties:   Tries:
Paterson 4, Parks   Heaslip, Reddan,
    O’Gara
Drop-Goals:    
Parks   Conversions:
    O’Gara 3

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