Back-to-back wins for Scotland
Scotland showed great character as they came from behind to seal an unlikely 12-8 win over Ireland at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Ireland dominated territory and possession for most of the match yet they were unable to make it count on the scoreboard as they failed to convert countless opportunities into points.
A misfiring line-out and a shaky debut by young Ireland flyhalf Paddy Jackson, preferred to veteran Ronan O'Gara, who missed three kicks at goal, added to Ireland’s frustrations.
Ireland had a great opportunity to score early on after Luke Marshall broke through the Scottish line and linked up with Keith Earls with a long pass.
The left wing was brought down by the cover defence but Ireland got a penalty and opted to setup a line-out. It proved a costly decision as Jim Hamilton plucked Rory Best’s throw out of the air and Scotland cleared their line.
Best had a nightmare with his line-out throwing and consistently curtailed the visitors’ advances into Scottish territory.
Marshall sparked another linebreak moments later with another incisive run but this time his pass to a flying Craig Gilroy was wayward.
The Irish continued to dominate possession and a quick tap by Conor Murray caught Scotland not retreating 10 metres and resulted in a yellow card for Ryan Grant.
Jackson stepped up but hooked his first penalty at Test level to the right.
Earls then had the Scottish defence at sixes and sevens as he stepped his way past two would-be defenders.
Failing to see Brian O’Driscoll in support on his inside, Earls pinned his ears back and raced for the line but Sean Maitland managed to tackle him into touch.
With another opportunity gone begging, Grant returned from the sin bin with the score still 0-0. Robert Harley was fortunate not to see yellow after taking out Peter O'Mahony in the air, but it put Scotland under immense pressure.
The Scots defended bravely but not without conceding a couple of penalties, with Jackson ultimately kicking the three points on offer to open the scoring in the 35th minute.
Scotland had a chance to draw level on the stroke of half-time, captain Kelly Brown winning a breakdown penalty, but Stuart Hogg’s attempt from 51 metres out fell just under the crossbar and the teams headed into the change rooms with Ireland holding a slender 3-0 lead.
The Irish came out firing in the second half and after an initial break by O’Brien, Gilroy spun out of a tackle to score the try that eluded the visitors in the first half, Jackson’s conversion attempt hitting the right upright.
The hosts finally worked their way into Ireland’s 22 in the 50th minute and Greig Laidlaw ensured they take three points from the visit after the Irish strayed offside.
Jackson had an immediate opportunity to nullify Laidlaw’s three-pointer but again the young flyhalf’s kick faded to the right.
Laidlaw had his kicking boots on and made it 8-6 just before the hour mark after a powerful scrum won Scotland a penalty.
The momentum had well and truly swung into Scotland’s favour and Laidlaw edged the hosts in front for the first time with a 63rd minute penalty, Ireland having collapsed a driving maul illegally.
O’Gara was then introduced and he attempted a dangerous kick-pass deep inside his own territory. Tim Visser kicked the bouncing ball ahead but O’Driscoll saved the day.
However, the Irish were penalised and Laidlaw popped over his fourth penalty to make it 12-8 to the Scots with five-and-a-half minutes remaining.
Ireland turned down a kick at goal in search of a match-winning try but Scotland stood firm and won a scrum feed after an accidental offside.
The drama continued as Ireland were given one final opportunity with a penalty at the ensuing scrum but Marshall spilled the ball forward from O’Gara’s pass and Murrayfield erupted.
Man of the match: Luke Marshall was a constant threat with ball in hand and Sean O'Brien was prominent in the No.7 jersey for Ireland. The Scottish back row were instrumental but our choice is Scotland lock Jim Hamilton, who was immense in the line-out and mobile across the park.
Moment of the match: Scotland hanging on for dear life to secure their first back-to-back Six Nations victories in a decade.
Villain of the match: Rory Best, for his shambolic line-out throwing, and Paddy Jackson, whose errant boot proved costly.
Pens: Laidlaw 4
Yellow card: Ryan Grant (Scotland, 15)
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 (captain), 6 Robert Harley, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Moray Low, 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 (captain), 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 David Kilcoyne, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ronan O'Gara, 23 Luke Fitzgerald.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garces (France), Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)