Planet Rugby

Scotland stay in the hunt

24th February 2013 15:40

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Scotland v Ireland: Kelly Brown

Scotland: Shock the Irish

Scotland kept their Six Nations title hopes alive thanks to a hard fought 12-8 victory over Ireland at Murrayfield on Sunday.

It's the first time since 2001 that the Scots have won back-to-back Six Nations matches.

After trailing 8-0 early in the second half, the hosts put 12 unanswered points past their Celtic rivals thanks to the boot of scrum-half Greig Laidlaw that helped his team to an unlikely win and that effectively ends Ireland's Six Nations challenge.

It certainly wasn't the most memorable Championship clash ever witnessed, as the two teams served up a borefest in the first half with Ireland - who dominated possession throughout - heading into the break with a slender three-point lead.

However, Scotland's fightback in the second half breathed some life into a tight contest.

Ireland started the game with a roar and a hiss, with centre Luke Marshall breaking the Scots' defence with ease in his Test debut. But Ireland failed to convert pressure into points - even against 14 men after Scotland prop Ryan Grant was sin-binned - and only had a 35th-minute Paddy Jackson penalty to show for their dominance.

Ireland finally found the breakthrough they deserved when wing Craig Gilroy crossed early in the second half out wide. The tricky conversion from Jackson, who missed three times from the tee, was unsuccessful.

That try only seemed to give Scotland the wake-up needed to mount a comeback and it didn't take long for Laidlaw to put his team on the scoreboard with his first penalty kick of the match on 53 minutes.

Jackson pulled another penalty wide two minutes later, but Laidlaw showed the Irish rookie how it was done with his second three-pointer of the afternoon that cut the deficit to just two points and suddenly the crowd came alive.

Laidlaw continued to find his target and made no mistake with two more accurate kicks to give the Scots a four-point cushion entering the final five minutes of what was turning into a gripping finale.

But Ireland weren't prepared to roll over yet, and threatened to steal the match from their hosts when they awarded two attacking scrums 10m out from Scotland's tryline.

However, Scotland dug deep in defence and there was no way through for the Irish whose knock-on sent Murrayfield into raptures.

Man of the match: Scotland lock Jim Hamilton won the official gong, and his hard work at the set-piece was a real standout for the hosts. But we've opted for hero of the day Greig Laidlaw, who's four perfect kicks at goal handed Scotland victory.

Moment of the match: There weren't many. But those last few minutes that so nearly ended in heartbreak for the hosts was a real nail-biter.

Villain of the match: Ryan Grant's sin-binning didn't prove as costly as Paddy Jackson's three missed kicks at goal which ultimately cost his side dearly.

The scorers:

For Scotland:
Pens: Laidlaw 4
Yellow card:Grant (15th min)

For Ireland:
Try: Gilroy
Pen: Jackson

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Kelly Brown (c), 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Moray Low, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 David Denton, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Max Evans.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ronan O'Gara, 23 Luke Fitzgerald.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

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