By Lucky Maree
Like the rest of the rugby world, the Scotland players must have watched in absolute amazement at the way France demolished England earlier this weekend. The Scots would certainly have felt better that they lost to France by “only” 11 points a month ago.
The clever money believes that when South Africa, Ireland and Scotland meet in Pool B at the World Cup, Scotland will be the losers. Perhaps, today, we’ll find out.
As the anthems ring out at Murrayfield, Gregor Townsend and his team know they will have to play out of their skins to give Ireland, who seem to be heading for a Six Nations Grand Slam, any sort of a contest.
After six minutes Scotland take an ill-conceived quick throw in at the lineout and Ireland take the ball away and score. Imagine the length of Johnny Sexton’s face when the ref tells him there is no try because the wrong ball was used.
Scotland’s defence holds as they defend on their try line, but they are under pressure and it shows. After 12 minutes Ireland have to be satisfied with just a three-point penalty.
Scotland manages to take the play to the Irish try line and after 20 minutes, Huw Jones dives over for Scotland for the first try of the match. It doesn’t mean Scotland will win, but it sure is the best possible start.
The quality rugby continues for another 10 minutes until, in spite of Duhan van der Merwe’s best tackle, Mackenzie Hansen scores right up against the touchline. Van der Merwe is again involved when Finn Russell hands him a beautiful pass, but he concedes a penalty for holding on which lets Ireland off the hook.
With five minutes to go, Ireland are once again in a scoring situation, and once again they are held out. This Scotland team clearly don’t know that they are supposed to be the underdogs.
At the end of the first half Ireland lead by a single point, but in truth, the match is closer than that.
With the start of the second half, the intensity remains high. The idea that Scotland are the underdogs is now a distant memory.
At 56 minutes and 17 seconds, the Scottish dam wall breaks as James Lowe scores in the left corner. Sexton converts, giving Ireland an eight-point lead. Perhaps the tide has turned.
Jack Conan scores a try no more than a minute later. Sexton converts from the try line. Yes, the tide has turned.
At halftime, there was no talk about bonus point tries, but now, with 10 to go, Ireland are one short of that fourth try.
In the cold light of the final whistle, Scotland have only managed one solitary score, Ireland have scored three tries and a penalty – and that’s a comprehensive victory, but Scotland the Brave fight until the end.
Scotland (1 try) 7-22 (3 tries) Ireland
Pictured above: Ireland
Image source: @irishpropaganda