Ireland laid the Murrayfield ghost in no uncertain fashion when they recorded a 36-6 victory over Scotland at a venue where they hadn’t won since 1985.
Ireland laid the Murrayfield ghost in no uncertain fashion when they recorded a 36-6 victory over Scotland at a venue where they hadn’t won since 1985. It was a victory that was fashioned primarily on superb defence typified by the way they defended their line towards the end of the third quarter when the Scots laid furious siege in an effort to get back into the game.
Time and time again the Scots flung themselves at the Irish defence and time and time again they found themselves being fliung backwards by the men in green. In the end the siege was lifted when Geordan Murphy picked up a loose ball, hammered it downfield and out-sprinted everyone to kick on again and score to the right of the posts.
So instead of gertting a score that would have left them possibly within a score of the lead, the Scots found themselves 20 points in arrears. Instead of Game On it was Game Over.
Ireland gave their supporters – and do doubt themselves – a fright when, from the kick off, Denis Hickie’s attempted clearance was blocked down and it spun over the line off the crossbar with blue and green jersey scrambling for the vital touch. After consultation with the video referee (Nigel Whitehouse), the decision was that the ball had been knocked on over the line.
Ireland were on the scoreboard after seven minutes and forty three second when David Humphreys chipped a penalty over after Brendan Laney had been penalised for offside.
In the 21st minute Ireland were saved by an ankle tap when Gordon Ross made the cut, found Glenn Metcalfe in support and the full-back was clean through only to be denied by Munster man Peter Stringer’s not-unusual ploy.
However, although their rucking game looked sharp, the Scots at this stage offered precious little in the backs, their forays easily contained by Ireland’s Mike Ford-orchestrated defence.
Then in their first attack of real intent Ireland scored the first try. Malcolm O’Kelly won clean ball, Brian O’Driscoll made the incision and when he was collared 10 metres out, the ball was recycled for Denis Hickie to score his 15th Test try.
As the half wore on Ireland slowly began to take control and in the 26th minute Humphreys kicked his third successful effort to push his side 13 points clear. In injury time Scotland should really have crossed the Irish line. Their defence was stretched and Scotland had men over but centre Laney – who should have been yellow-carded earlier for a high tackle on O’Driscoll – threw out a wild pass and the chance was lost.
In the second half Humphreys extended the Irish lead with another penalty before Gordon Ross opened Scotland’s account with a similar score in the 48th minute. That score signalled a period of Scottish pressure but the Irish refused to yield and the home side had only a Ross penalty to show for their efforts.
Humphreys tagged on a penalty (19-6) before that breakaway try sealed the outcome.
Another penalty from the Dungannon out-half and his conversion of his own try ended the scoring and left this Irish side in the best of rude health for the away trip to Play Italy.
Ireland: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan (Geordan Murphy 26), Brian O’Driscoll capt (Paul Burke 77), Kevin Maggs, Denis Hickie; David Humphreys, Peter Stringer(Guy Easterby 77); Reggie Corrigan (Marcus Horan 74), Shane Byrne (Frank Sheahan 77), John Hayes; Gary Longwell (Leo Cullen 66), Malcolm O’Kelly; Victor Costello (Alan Quinlan 69), Keith Gleeson, Anthony Foley.
Scotland: Glenn Metcalfe; Kenny Logan, Andy Craig, Brendan Laney, Chris Paterson; Gordon Ross (Gregor Townsend), Bryan Redpath capt; Tom Smith. Gordon Bulloch, Bruce Douglas (G Kerr); Scott Murray, Stuart Grimes; Martin Leslie, Andrew Mower, Simon Taylor.