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Six Nations: Ireland Locked, And Loaded

Six Nations: Ireland Locked, And Loaded

Lynchpin locks Malcolm O’Kelly and Paul O’Connell, skipper-for-the-day, drove Ireland on to a 40-13 RBS Six Nations triumph over Scotland on Saturday, bagging a try each in the process.

Lynchpin locks Malcolm O’Kelly and Paul O’Connell, skipper-for-the-day, drove Ireland on to a 40-13 RBS Six Nations triumph over Scotland on Saturday, bagging a try each in the process.

Scotland 13 Ireland 40, Murrayfield
Scorers: Scotland: Hugo Southwell, Jon Petrie; Pen: Chris Paterson
Ireland: Tries: Malcolm O’Kelly, Paul O’Connell, Denis Hickie, John Hayes, Gavin Duffy; Cons: Ronan O’Gara 2, David Humphreys; Pens: O’Gara 3

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Eddie O’Sullivan’s side bridged the second step on the way to a possible 2005 Grand Slam as they came back from an early 8-0 deficit to hammer the Scots for 28 unanswered points.

Octopus-armed O’Kelly and O’Connell were central to that, pick-pocketing a leaden Scottish pack for two crucial tries in the final sixteen minutes of the first half.

Touch downs followed in the second half for Denis Hickie – scoring his 25th, and euqalling the mark of absent record holder Brian O’Driscoll – tighthead prop John Hayes – bagging his second Test try, and first since scoring against Romania in September 2002 – and Ballina-born youngster Gavin Duffy – notching his first Test score on his second appearance as a substitute.

England now lie in wait for a February 27 tussle at Lansdowne Road – success there would chalk up a seventh straight Six Nations win, but in the words of American poet Robert Frost, famed insomniac O’Sullivan still has miles to go before he sleeps.

The fitness of centre pairing O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy is sure to keep the Cork man on his toes for the next seven days, but pivotal as they are, at least he is safe in the knowledge that there are deputies willing and able.

This was a much more concerted effort from Ireland – and a performance which merited the growing potential of last season’s Triple Crown winners.

Leinster’s Shane Horgan has excelled in midfield in three Test outings there in the last four months. Saturday saw him take the top tackler award with twelve hits – although he was left trailing in Hugo Southwell’s wake on eleven minutes as Matt Williams’ men fired into action.

Full back Chris Paterson was their catalyst – his searing midfield break past the unfortunate Reggie Corrigan gave Andy Craig the chance to send Southwell scuttling in at the right corner, evading Horgan’s reach.

The promise was there for coach Williams’ first tournament win since taking charge last year, but as it was, the visitors – feeding off the famed Munster maul – were decisively 18-8 to the good at half-time.

Six days certainly made a difference to fly half Ronan O’Gara, and his assured kicking saw him net 13 points. The 27-year-old answered back an early Paterson penalty, with one of his own and soon after, on 24 minutes, O’Kelly lurched over from a close-range ruck.

O’Gara’s conversion saw the Irish hit the front – 10-8 – O’Connell’s plunge over through the meek tackles of Dan Parks and Gavin Kerr reinforced that lead to ten points.

A 43rd-minute turnover snaffle of the ball from flanker Johnny O’Connor was shipped onto O’Gara and he fed Hickie – 29 on Sunday – who made the line with comparative ease.

O’Gara converted again, and while the Scots showed signs of a revival just before the hour as a Stuart Grimes lineout take set up openside flanker Jon Petrie for a neat ruck try, Ireland kept the points ticking over.

Two more tries in the final eight minutes saw 31-year-old Hayes the unlikely recipient of a right wing ball from O’Kelly, and he had enough power to beat substitute Mike Blair for the grounding.

Duffy’s injury time skip over – profiting from turnover ball – then ended a fifth straight win for O’Sullivan over Scotland, in his 41st game in charge.

Substitute David Humphreys’ pinpoint touchline conversion just emphasized the return of the feel-good factor.

Roll on Andy Robinson’s lot!


(15) Chris Paterson
(14) Simon Danielli
(13) Andy Craig
(12) Hugo Southwell
(11) Sean Lamont
(10) Dan Parks
(9) Chris Cusiter
(1) Tom Smith
(2) Gordon Bulloch (Capt)
(3) Gavin Kerr
(4) Stuart Grimes
(5) Scott Murray
(6) Jason White
(7) Jon Petrie
(8) Allister Hogg

Replacements used: Mike Blair for Cusiter (6-16 mins), Bruce Douglas for Kerr, Nathan Hines for Murray, Blair for Cusiter (all 70). Not used: Robbie Russell, Jon Dunbar, Gordon Ross, Ben Hinshelwood.


(15) Geordan Murphy
(14) Girvan Dempsey
(13) Shane Horgan
(12) Kevin Maggs
(11) Denis Hickie
(10) Ronan O’Gara
(9) Peter Stringer
(1) Reggie Corrigan
(2) Shane Byrne
(3) John Hayes
(4) Malcolm O’Kelly
(5) Paul O’Connell (Capt)
(6) Simon Easterby
(7) Johnny O’Connor
(8) Anthony Foley

Replacements used: Eric Miller for O’Connor (66 mins), Frankie Sheahan for Byrne, Marcus Horan for Corrigan (both 71), Guy Easterby for Stringer, Donncha O’Callaghan for O’Kelly, David Humphreys for O’Gara, Gavin Duffy for Hickie (all 75).

HT: Scotland 8 Ireland 18; Attendance: 67,800
Referee: Joel Jutge (France)