Four-try Ireland a cut above Scotland

Date published: March 10 2012

Ireland scored four tries at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday in a convincing 32-14 Six Nations victory over Scotland.

Ireland scored four tries at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday in a convincing 32-14 Six Nations victory over Scotland.

Having lost narrowly (and somewhat controversially) to Wales before being held to a draw in Paris, Ireland will head to Twickenham in confident mood next weekend.

Scotland meanwhile are faced with a Wooden Spoon showdown in Rome.

An entertaining first-half saw four tries being scored as Rory Best, Eoin Reddan and Andrew Trimble touched down for the hosts while Richie Gray showed great power, pace and skill to cross for Scotland to leave the hosts leading 22-14 at the break.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for a gritty, error-strewn second half as the hosts struggled to come up with the knockout blow.

In fact, the only knockout of the second period involved Scotland wing Lee Jones's lights going out after a vicious (though entirely unintentional) clash of heads with Trimble.

Replacement centre Fergus McFadden did eventually secure a deserved win for Ireland with a try under the sticks in the dying minutes.

A hamstring injury in the warm-up meant that Nick De Luca was replaced by Max Evans in the Scottish midfield, with uncapped Edinburgh back Matt Scott named on the bench.

Fly-half Greig Laidlaw kicked the visitors into an early 6-0 lead as Scotland held onto all the possession in the opening 10 minutes with the expansive style which has been the hallmark of their approach throughout the championship.

Ireland's positive mindset was evident when they opted to kick for the corner rather than take three points on the quarter-hour mark.

After a simple line-out, the ball was sent down the blindside and Best went straight over Mike Blair to score the first try in the corner.

Jonathan Sexton and Laidlaw exchanged penalties before Ireland struck again as Reddan escaped the clutches of opposite number Blair, Sean Lamont and David Denton to wriggle his way clear and score following a ruck five metres out. Sexton converted to put the hosts 15-9 ahead.

Scotland's reply wasn't long in coming though as giant second row Gray broke through attempted tackles from Reddan and Tommy Bowe before selling Rob Kearney a dummy and sprinting 25m for his first Test try. Laidlaw missed the conversion.

Ireland would take the momentum into the dressing rooms however, scoring their third try when Trimble made a mockery of the Scottish defence out wide – and Lee Jones in particular – to dashed over in the corner.

Sexton's conversion was wide but the hosts would have felt confident of victory with an eight-point lead at the break.

Bowe came desperately close to claiming Ireland's fourth try early in the second period but was wrestled onto his back by Graeme Morrison and the TMO ruled that he had made an illegal second movement in grounding the ball.

But overall the second forty minutes failed to live up to the standard set in the opening period. Scotland fought bravely but never realistically looked like having enough to claim victory.

Max Evans was sent to the sin bin for impeding Keith Earls without the ball on 72 minutes and Ireland made the most of their numerical advantage as McFadden burrowed over the line with three minutes left on the clock.

Man of the match: A few candidates here and a mention must go to Rory Best for leading Ireland to victory. Stephen Ferris and Donnacha Ryan were also outstanding for the men in green but we'll break with convention and go with someone from the losing side because Richie Gray was phenomenal. For a lock, his try was simply brilliant. It's a sign of his class that he often seemed like the Scots' most dangerous runner.

Moment of the match: Scotland were right in the game in the first half but Andrew Trimble's try just before half time took the wind out of their sails. While a lot of credit must go to the Ulster wing, Trimble should never have been allowed to score. It was the kind of defensive glitch that has ruined Scotland's campaign and it put Ireland in a position from which they could control the game.

Villain of the match: We'll change this one to “Ballerina of the Match.” The dive from Keith Earls after being 'interfered with' on his way to the line by Max Evans would have made Christiano Ronaldo proud.

The scorers:

For Ireland:
Tries: Best, Reddan, Trimble, McFadden
Cons: Sexton 3
Pens: Sexton 2

For Scotland:
Try: Gray
Pens: Laidlaw 3

Yellow card: Evans (Scotland – 73rd min – playing man without the ball)

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Peter O'Mahony, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Mike McCarthy, 19 Shane Jennings, 20 Tomas O'Leary, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Fergus McFadden.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Max Evans, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Mike Blair, 8 David Denton, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross , 2 Ross Ford (c) 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Euan Murray, 18 Alastair Kellock, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Matthew Scott

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite, Greg Garner (England)
Television match official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)