Ireland edge out Scotland

Date published: August 15 2015

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Ireland ran in four tries as they won a thrilling encounter with Scotland 28-22 to make it two wins from two ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Chris Henry, Sean Cronin, Simon Zebo and Luke Fitzgerald all crossed, with the Leinster winger's try 11 minutes from time proving decisive.

After struggling early on, Scotland started to show some form either side of half-time, and ran in three tries of their own, through Blair Cowan, Henry Pyrgos and Peter Horne.

The game started scrappily with both sides struggling with their handling in an error-strewn opening 15 minutes.

Ireland had enjoyed the better of the territory battle up to that point, and they crossed for the first try of the game through Henry.

Making his first start since suffering a mini-stroke last November, the Ulster flanker showed his strength to power through some weak tackling from close range. Ian Madigan converted from the touchline, and it looked as if Scotland would be in for a long afternoon.

A dominant Ireland scrum was also a concern for Vern Cotter, but they came back into the game on the half-hour. Making the most of Dave Denton's powerful carrying, they were able to produce quick ball to stretch the Irish defence.

Ireland fell off a number of tackles and after some good work from Ruaridh Jackson, Richie Vernon fed Cowan for the simple finish. Horne converted for the visitors.

Having struggled for much of the half, Scotland finished better, and they carried on where they'd left off after the break.

When Zebo was forced into touch five metres out after a good counter-attack, the Scots were able to set up camp in the Irish 22. Dan Tuohy then missed a key tackle as skipper Pyrgos squeezed over. Horne was off-target with the conversion, as he had been with a penalty attempt late in the first-half.

Scotland were playing with great confidence, with winger Visser producing one of his best performances in a couple of years as he caused Ireland lots of problems. One great break should have led to more points, but Denton hung onto the ball with four men outside him.

Zebo appeared to have got away with one in the same move, as his trip on Visser wasn't spotted by the officials.

Joe Schmidt chose that moment to introduce Paul O'Connell, and the Irish appeared to take heart from the arrival of their captain, getting back onto the front foot. They earned a line-out five metres out and showed their strength at the maul rolling forward before Cronin peeled off the back and dived over.

With Madigan's conversion, Ireland moved ahead 14-12, but Scotland hit back quickly with a penalty from Horne after Ireland were caught holding on in their 22.

Ireland then produced a magical third try, with replacement Dave Kearney slicing through in midfield. The ball was recycled quickly and Madigan stepped before feeding Zebo on his inside shoulder, with the full-back showing enough pace to race over.

The quality of play had really picked up in the second-half, and it was Scotland's turn to hit back, with Horne finishing off a try after some good work by Sean Lamont. The winger powered through a weak tackle from Gordon D'Arcy, before finding Horne and the centre had the pace to get over. Horne was winded while scoring, so Jackson took over the kicking duties and put his team back in front.

It was very much back and forth though and Ireland were over again with ten minutes remaining thanks to Fitzgerald. With penalty advantage, Madigan produced a perfect cross-kick for his winger, with Fitzgerald collecting and sprinting over.

Madigan converted, but missed a penalty that would have sealed the win. However, despite some late pressure from the Scots, Ireland were able to hold out, albeit with a less convincing performance than a week ago in Cardiff.

Scotland had some good performances from the likes of Denton and Visser, but lost their sixth game in a row in 2015.

Man of the match: A number of contenders on each side, but we'll go with Tim Visser, who produced the best display we've seen from him in a long time. Good under the high ball, constantly breaking tackles, and instrumental in the second try, Visser looks to be hitting form at the right time.

Moment of the match: Ian Madigan did his case for being Jonathan Sexton's back-up a world of good, and the highlight was undoubtedly the pinpoint cross-kick to Luke Fitzgerald which ended up delivering the win for Ireland.

Villain of the match: Nothing too bad to report, although Simon Zebo got lucky that his trip on Tim Visser went unnoticed. He would certainly have been sin-binned if it had been spotted.

The scorers:

For Ireland
Tries:
Henry, Cronin, Zebo, Fitzgerald
Cons: Madigan 4

For Scotland
Tries:
Cowan, Pyrgos, Horne
Cons: Horne, Jackson
Pen: Horne:

The teams:

Ireland: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Sean O'Brien (c), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Jack Conan, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Nathan White, 19 Paul O'Connell, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Dave Kearney.

Scotland: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Henry Prygos (c), 8 David Denton, 7 Hugh Blake, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Mike Cusack, 19 Rob Harley, 20 John Barclay, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Matt Scott.

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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