A late penalty by flyhalf Johnny Sexton secured a hard-fought 27-24 victory for Ireland against a spirited Scottish side in Edinburgh.
Ireland came to Edinburgh with a point to prove in the all-Celtic derby. Scotland, who haven’t played since the second round, looked rusty in the first half as Ireland controlled the flow of the game. The Irish lineout caused Scotland a world of problems with the men in blue only winning one out of their first seven throws.
An early try by inside centre Robbie Henshaw put the home side under pressure. Though Scotland did well to fight back with two late tries in the second half from ex-Stormer Huw Jones and Hamish Watson, ultimately a late penalty was enough for Ireland to sneak home. They’ll be pleased to come away with the victory after a difficult season to date.
Although the Irish pack collectively impressed, it was Henshaw who really stood out for the visitors. In addition to capitalising upon the bouncing ball to score an opportunistic try, he was abrasive on attack and a stalwart on defence. He’ll particularly remember clashing with Duhan van der Merwe and coming out the victor when he bundled the big winger into touch.
The match-winning moment was undoubtedly Ryan Baird’s chargedown of Scottish scrumhalf Ali Price in the 77th minute. Scotland’s Hamish Watson had just scored to bring the two sides level and it looked as though Scotland may have done enough to overturn a 14-point deficit.
Baird, however, had other ideas and effected a brilliant chargedown following the restart to put Scotland under pressure. The penalty from the ensuing ruck was calmly slotted by Johnny Sexton to ensure that the Irish came away with a tough-fought victory.
Scotland – Tries: Russell, Jones, Watson. Conversions: Russell, Hogg (2). Penalty: Russell.
Ireland- Tries: Henshaw, Beirne. Conversion: Sexton. Penalties: Sexton (5).