In a fast-paced encounter, Ireland were deserved winners as they committed less unforced errors and eventually outscored their hosts by three tries to one.
The victory is an important one for the defending champions as it is their first of this year’s competition, although they will be kicking themselves as they failed to secure a try-scoring bonus point which could prove costly later on.
Scotland made the brighter start and opened the scoring in the seventh minute courtesy of a Greig Laidlaw penalty after Bundee Aki infringed at a breakdown.
Things went pear-shaped in the 10th minute for the home side, however, when Ireland replied via a Conor Murray try which came against the run of play. This, when Tommy Seymour fielded a kick inside his 22 before throwing a wild pass to Sean Maitland, who failed to gather. Murray pounced on the loose ball and had an easy run-in over the try-line.
Scotland suffered another setback in the 17th minute when Stuart Hogg was forced off the field with an arm injury.
Blair Kinghorn had barely come on as Hogg’s replacement when Ireland struck again via a try from Jacob Stockdale. Peter O’Mahony and Johnny Sexton combined superbly in the build-up to create space for Stockdale, who gathered a pass from Sexton just inside Scotland’s half, and he did well to outsprint the cover defence before crossing the whitewash.
Despite trailing 12-3 on the scoreboard, the Scots did not panic and they reduced the deficit in the 29th minute when Sam Johnson crossed for their opening try.
Ireland were initially on the attack close to the halfway line but Finn Russell intercepted a pass from Joey Carbery, who had replaced the injured Sexton, and the home side’s fly-half did well to set off on a 45 metre run before his progress was halted by a fine tackle from Keith Earls. Russell managed to free his arms, however, and offloaded to the on-rushing Johnson, who crossed for his first Test try.
Laidlaw slotted the conversion which narrowed the gap to two points but, although the home side had the better of the half’s closing stages and spent long periods camped inside Ireland’s 22, they could not score further points before the interval.
Half-time came at the right time for Ireland as they regrouped during the break and regained the initiative after the restart.
In the 56th minute, Carbery, who struggled up to that point, left his stamp on the match with a telling break before throwing a long pass to Keith Earls, who scored his side’s third try.
Carbery added the extras but Scotland struck back when Laidlaw slotted a penalty shortly afterwards which meant Ireland held a 19-13 lead as the game entered its final quarter.
Despite that kick, the visitors held the upper-hand and went further ahead in the 68th minute when Carbery slotted a penalty which gave his side a 22-13 lead.
Scotland needed a response but they committed several errors in a bid to haul in their opponents, who held on for the win with a solid defensive effort during the game’s closing stages.
Pens: Laidlaw 2
Tries: Murray, Stockdale, Earls
Cons: Sexton, Carbery
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Blair Kinghorn
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 James Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 John Cooney, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jordan Larmour
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gaüzère (France), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
by David Skippers