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Scotland Eclipsed As Ireland Roar To Fourth Win

Scotland Eclipsed As Ireland Roar To Fourth Win

Ireland turned things around in the second half against Scotland as Jamie Heaslip’s try, inspired by man-of-the-match Peter Stringer, set them on the road to their fourth win of this year’s RBS 6 Nations. Ronan O’Gara also played a pivotal role, landing 17 points with his right boot.

2009 RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Saturday, March 14

SCOTLAND 15 IRELAND 22, Murrayfield

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Scorers: Scotland: Pens: Chris Paterson 5
Ireland: Try: Jamie Heaslip; Con: Ronan O’Gara; Pens: Ronan O’Gara 4; Drop: Ronan O’Gara

Ireland will march on to Cardiff with the RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam in their sights after pounding Scotland into submission at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Declan Kidney’s men sprang into life in a dominant second half that saw replacement Jamie Heaslip power over for a try created by a moment of brilliance from recalled scrum half Peter Stringer.

Heaslip, on for the injured Denis Leamy, made a barnstorming appearance from the bench, crowning it with his second try of the 2009 Championship.

And it was also a sweet moment for Stringer, the vastly experienced scrum half and RBS man-of-the-match, who celebrated his recall with a lively display topped by his game-turning break.

Ireland’s supremacy after the interval will have sent a shudder through Wales as the RBS 6 Nations rivals prepare to meet in a title decider at the Millennium Stadium next Saturday.

Ireland may possess several game-breakers behind the scrum, including in-form captain Brian O’Driscoll, but it was the forwards who broke Scotland’s resistance with an attritional display that had a Munster stamp all over it.

The only complaint was the scoreboard failed to mirror their superiority, although this was no reflection on Ronan O’Gara who returned to top form. 

In the process, he became the highest points scorer in International Championship history, eclipsing the 479-point mark established by Jonny Wilkinson with four penalties, one conversion and a sweetly-struck drop goal.

O’Gara’s place-kicking Chris Paterson preserved his flawless record in this year’s RBS 6 Nations with five from five, keeping the Scots in touch.

The encounter was rarely easy on the eye with the scarcity of try-scoring opportunities making the contribution of the kickers all the more important.

Paterson did the initial damage, ensuring Scotland finished a dominant opening five minutes, which saw winger Simon Danielli threaten in the right corner, with a penalty.

Seeking to ratchet up the pressure, they instead conceded a turnover and then watched in frustration as skipper Mike Blair sent a penalty dead in the in-goal area.

O’Gara punished an infringement with a simple three points but Ireland’s defence was once being tested by Scotland’s forwards close to the breakdown.

Struggling to contain the home side, they conceded a second penalty to the boot of Paterson before seeing an attack foiled by another unforced error.

Ireland continued to fall foul of Jonathan Kaplan’s whistle as Scotland pressed, with Paterson nudging the hosts 9-3 ahead after the official had spotted some over-zealous rucking from O’Driscoll.

O’Gara responded in kind as the Irish put together their most impressive passage of play, stretching Scotland out wide and then hurting them through the middle.

With Kaplan showing no leniency, Paterson and O’Gara exchanged penalties once again and just as the match was descending into a tedious string of offences it burst into life.

Scotland capitalised on an overlap to send Thom Evans screaming into space and only a last-ditch tackle from Tommy Bowe prevented him from going over with Phil Godman also denied by a brilliant challenge from O’Driscoll.

Ireland, now putting more pace on their passes and upping the intensity, made a stirring start to the second half as they successfully probed for openings.

The Scots were being run ragged with wingers Bowe and Luke Fitzgerald and replacement Heaslip punching big holes in their defence, which eventually cracked in the 51st minute.

A huge gap opened up for Stringer at the base of a lineout and the alert Corkman needed no second invitation.

Racing free on the diagonal, he turned Paterson inside out before picking out Heaslip on his shoulder and the Leinster back rower stormed over to the left of the posts.

O’Gara slotted the conversion and then landed a drop goal to send Ireland 19-12 ahead, but Paterson’s incredible accuracy reduced the deficit once again.

But with Paul O’Connell, David Wallace and Stephen Ferris immense once again, the Irish had a stranglehold on the last quarter, refusing to let Scotland break from their half as they moved within one win of the nation’s first Grand Slam since 1948.

TIME LINE: 7 minutes – Scotland penalty: Chris Paterson – 3-0; 11 mins – Ireland penalty: Ronan O’Gara – 3-3; 15 mins – Scotland penalty: Chris Paterson – 6-3; 21 mins – Scotland penalty: Chris Paterson – 9-3; 27 mins – Ireland penalty: Ronan O’Gara – 9-6; 33 mins – Scotland penalty: Chris Paterson – 12-6; 34 mins – Ireland penalty: Ronan O’Gara – 12-9; Half-time – Scotland 12 Ireland 9; 51 mins – Ireland try: Jamie Heaslip – 12-14; conversion: Ronan O’Gara – 12-16; 57 mins – Ireland drop goal: Ronan O’Gara – 12-19; 61 mins – Scotland penalty: Chris Paterson – 15-19; 65 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Ronan O’Gara – 15-19; 72 mins – Ireland penalty: Ronan O’Gara – 15-22; Full-time – Scotland 15 Ireland 22

SCOTLAND: Chris Paterson; Simon Danielli, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Jim Hamilton, Jason White, Alasdair Strokosch, John Barclay, Simon Taylor.

Replacements used: Nathan Hines for White (51 mins), Chris Cusiter for Blair (52), Dougie Hall for Ford (58), Scott Gray for Barclay (68), Nick De Luca for Morrison (70). Not used: Moray Low, Hugo Southwell.

IRELAND: Robert Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Rory Best, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.

Replacements used: Jamie Heaslip for Leamy (30 mins), Jerry Flannery for Best (62), Tomas O’Leary for Stringer (66), Geordan Murphy for Kearney (76). Not used: Tom Court, Mick O’Driscoll, Paddy Wallace.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)