A marvellous team effort gave Ireland their first Triple Crown since 1985, a performance that was laced with some glimpses of the rich talent that this squad possesses.
Perhaps the pressure of the occasion got to some of the players because some of them lacked the vigor of previous occasions but the sign of a good side is when it operates when some its components are not firing on all cylinders.
And Ireland needed to be brave on Saturday because Scotland arrived with every intention of spoiling the party and salvaging their season. They went toe-to toe with the home side and were in with every chance right up until the final quarter before they were finally put to the sword
by Peter Stringer’s try.
Before then though, we had a tense opening half in which the visitors refused to be intimidated either by the home side’s ambition or the crowd’s expectation.
They took the lead after less than 2 minutes when Chris Paterson knocked over a penalty and it was nip n tuck from then until the final quarter. Crucial score of the opening half came from Gordon D’Arcy when he took an inside pass from Shane Horgan – after Horgan had injected a nice bit of pace to outstrip the Scots defence – and in turn after a magical long pass from Brian O’Driscoll.
And it was O’Driscoll again who was involved in the second try when his long cut out pass gave Geordan Murphy the space in which he is just pure lethal.
But then O’Driscoll was involved in most everything. His defence was simply awesome, tackling backs and forwards with the relish of a Jean-Pierre Rives, covering every Scots threat, supporting his own side, back or forward. To say he played a captain’s is the understaement of the year.
And this time around it was those backs around the skipper who fashioned the victory. Four of the five tries came from that the department, David Wallace the party-pooper when he scored in the 54th minute, a try that came at a crucial stage, minutes after the Scots had draw level. That try was a typical Wallace effort, a half-break that has him held and then that amazing ability to squirm free and get the touchdown.
But maybe like the best wine, the best try, well the best solo try, kept till last and it came, and rightly so from, if not the player of the tournament, then certainly the revelation of this RBS Six Nations, Gordon D’Arcy. It came from another rumble forward led by Paul O’Connell and when the ball came back to D’Arcy standing on the right, nothing seemed on. But in a flash, D’Arcy switched direction and the moment he made that decision it was try-on. He totally wrong footed the entire Scottish cover, passed to Murphy who took a nice line before returning the pass to D’Arcy who scored close to the sticks.
If they were sitting down to select the Lions backs this week, Gordon D’Arcy who be among the names penciled in first time around, along with needles to say, O’Driscoll, Geordan Murphy and Ronan O’Gara. As it is, if they stay injury free the same will apply in 12 twelve months time when the squad for New Zealand is selected.
Ireland: G Dempsey (Leinster-Terenure); S Horgan (Leinster-Lansdowne), G D’Arcy (Leinster-Lansdowne), B O’Driscoll (Leinster-Blackrock, capt), G Murphy (Leicester); R O’Gara (Munster-Cork Constitution), P Stringer (Munster-Shannon); R Corrigan (Leinster-Greystones), S Byrne (Leinster -Blackrock), J Hayes (Munster-Shannon), M O’Kelly (Leinster-St Mary’s), P O’Connell (Munster-Young Munster), S Easterby (Llanelli), A Foley (Munster-Shannon), D Wallace (Munster-Garryowen).
Replacements: D O’Callaghan (Munster-Cork Constitution) for O’Kelly (49-54 mins and 79 mins), M Horan (Munster-Shannon) for Corrigan (60 mins), F Sheahan (Munster-Cork Constitution) for Byrne, V Costello (Leinster-St Mary’s) for Wallace, G Easterby (Rotherham) for Stringer, D Humphreys (Ulster-Dungannon) for O’Gara, K Maggs (Bath) for D’Arcy (all 79 mins).
Scotland: C Paterson (Edinburgh Rugby); S Danielli (Bath), T Philip (Edinburgh Rugby), A Henderson (Glasgow Rugby), S Webster (Edinburgh Rugby); D Parks (Glasgow Rugby), C Cusiter (Borders); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh Rugby), G Bulloch (Glasgow Rugby), B Douglas (Borders), S Murray (Edinburgh Rugby), S Grimes (Newcastle Falcons), J White (Sale Sharks), S Taylor (Edinburgh Rugby), A Hogg (Edinburgh Rugby).
Replacements: G Kerr (Leeds Tykes) for Jacobsen (half-time), J Petrie (Glasgow) for Taylor (42 mins), N Hines (Edinburgh Rugby) for Grimes, M Blair (Edinburgh Rugby) for Cusiter (both 59 mins), B Laney (Edinburgh Rugby) for Henderson (67 mins), R Russell (Saracens) for Bulloch (73 mins), D Lee (Edinburgh Rugby) for Danielli (77 mins).
Referee: Nigel Williams (Wales).