Dublin - Ruthless Ireland punished an indisciplined Scotland to round off a
disappointing Six Nations championship on a high with a 35-25 win at
Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
Joe Schmidt's men had hoped to make
history this season by winning a third title back-to-back but will have
to make do with back-to-back wins, following last week's victory over
Scotland, who defeated France last weekend, were looking
for a third successive championship win for the first time in 20 years,
but a poor start and continued indiscipline let them down, with two
sin-bins costing them dearly.
Scotland's indiscipline began to
hurt them early on, with Johnny Sexton slotting home three penalties
inside the opening 20 minutes, as the visitors found themselves on the
wrong side of referee Pascal Gauzere, particularly at the breakdown.
Laidlaw responded with a penalty for Scotland on 15 minutes, but the
home side were dominant for the majority of the first half with Sexton
looking back to his inspiring best.
Somehow, Scotland were the first to touch down with a piece of magic from the in-form Glasgow full back Stuart Hogg.
gathered Conor Murray's box-kick just on the half way line, and once he
spotted the front row pairing of Mike Ross and Rory Best in his way he
dummied, cut through the middle and sprinted home.
later Scotland's discipline let them down again when John Barclay was
sent to the bin for what would be a costly ten minutes.
punished Scotland just three minutes later, acrobatically leaping home
from close range after the Irish pack pounded away at the line, and just
three minutes later a second try arrived.
Sexton's left footed
chip behind the Scots line looked hopeful at best, but a defensive mix
up between Hogg and Tommy Seymour saw the ball bounce free and Keith
Earls, on his 50th appearance for Ireland, romped home.
Laidlaw landed a penalty on the break of half time, but the traffic was all going one way.
minutes after the restart Conor Murray scored his third try of the
championship, nipping home once more from a yard out, to put 15 points
between the sides.
Scotland's game looked over, but Richie Gray's
55th minute try showed they were up for the fight, with Tim Visser and
Duncan Taylor doing well in the build up.
Just as the visitor's looked to be back in the game, they shot themselves in the foot once again.
This time it was Alex Dunbar sent to the bin for a dangerous lift tackle on Sexton, and once more Ireland were ruthless.
hosts piled forward, and after some good play by the pack, Heaslip
broke and offloaded to give Devin Toner an easy run in under the posts
for his first international try.
Dunbar returned to touch down with three minutes to go, but it was too little, too late.