Six Nations

Scotland rally to down Ireland

2013-02-24 18:13
Greig Laidlaw (AFP)

Edinburgh - Flyhalf Greig Laidlaw held his nerve as Scotland won back-to-back Six Nations matches for the first time since 2001 after coming from behind to beat Ireland 12-8 at Murrayfield on Sunday.

Laidlaw landed all four of his penalty attempts while, in contrast, debutant Ireland outside-half Paddy Jackson managed just one successful goal-kick from four attempts.

Scotland, under the interim charge of Australian coach Scott Johnson, were 8-0 down early in the second half after Ireland wing Craig Gilroy crossed for the only try of the match.

But Scotland's forwards, dominant at the scrum, eventually laid a points-scoring platform for Laidlaw, who took his side into a 12-8 lead with barely five minutes left.

Ireland then pressed for a match-winning try but when debutant centre Luke Marshall knocked on with the final play, the Scots, roared on by a crowd of over 67 000, had done enough to secure victory in a match where the visitors had 80 percent possession.

Scotland made just one change to the side that beat Italy 34-10, with prop Geoff Cross replacing Euan Murray, who doesn't play on Sundays because of his Christian beliefs.

Injuries and suspension forced Ireland into making five changes from the side that lost 12-6 to England last time out, with coach Declan Kidney taking the bold decision to hand a Test debut to 21-year-old Ulsterman Paddy Jackson rather than recall veteran Ronan O'Gara in place of hamstring victim Jonathan Sexton.

Jackson's Ulster team-mate Marshall also made his Test debut in place of injured centre Gordon D'Arcy, with utility back Keith Earls in for Simon Zebo.

Meanwhile, Tom Court replaced Cian Healy after the loosehead prop was suspended for stamping on England's Dan Cole and lock Donncha O'Callaghan came in for Mike McCarthy.

Marshall and Jackson made a neat scissors move in midfield, with the centre drawing Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg only to then produce a forward pass out to Gilroy when the wing was clear on the right touchline.

Ireland continued to press and Scotland found themselves a man down when prop Ryan Grant was sent to the sin-bin for obstructing an Irish tap penalty.

But from the ensuing penalty Jackson, then saw his first Test goal-kick, from 25 metres out on the right, drift wide of the posts.

Earls then made another searing break but did not look for support and was bundled into touch short of the line by the Scottish cover defence.

However, Ireland's pressure eventually told when Jackson made no mistake with a simple penalty from inside the 22.

A lethargic Scotland had a chance to level on half-time but Hogg's long-range penalty attempt fell short and Ireland turned round 3-0 in front.

Ireland were also the livelier side early in the second half, with flanker Sean O'Brien bursting into the 22.

They retained possession and from a close-range ruck Gilroy spun over for a try to leave the visitors 8-0 in front after Jackson's conversion attempt hit the right post.

Yet Ireland's lead was cut to just five points when Laidlaw landed his opening penalty.

And Irish nerves wouldn't have been soothed when, shortly afterwards, Jackson saw another penalty chance go begging.

Scotland continued to have the edge up front and, when they forced a scrum penalty on the hour, Laidlaw made no mistake.

Suddenly, in a match where they'd been largely outplayed, Scotland were just two points behind at 8-6 down heading into the final quarter.

Their forwards started to drive and won another penalty. Laidlaw duly obliged and, in the 64th minute, Scotland led for the first time at 9-8.

Jackson's disappointing debut then came to an end, with Kidney sending on O'Gara but it was Laidlaw who kicked the decisive points.

Read more on:    six nations  |  rugby
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