Murrayfield - Two late penalties in the last eight minutes by Scotland captain
Greig Laidlaw gave his side a thrilling 27-22 Six Nations opening win
against Ireland on Saturday.
The Scots stunned the
pre-Championship favourites with three tries in the opening 28 minutes - two by dazzling fullback Stuart Hogg and by centre Alex Dunbar's
ingenious intervention in a lineout - but then saw their 21-5 lead
Winger Keith Earls had already scored one try for
Ireland and two more in the second half - by lock Iain Henderson and
flyhalf Paddy Jackson - put Ireland ahead 22-21.
momentum against them, though, the Scots dug deep and Gloucester
scrum-half Laidlaw nailed the two late penalties that secured their
first opening round win since 2006.
For Ireland, November
conquerors of the All Blacks, the only consolation was the first losing
bonus point in the history of the championship.
"When there was
one point in it I think everyone thought it would be the same old story
but we managed to claw our way back in," said Scotland coach Vern
"It was a great win and validates the work they have been doing in training."
fellow Kiwi and Ireland counterpart Joe Schmidt added: "Scotland got a
flying start, really impressive, and Vern Cotter has obviously done some
great work with them."
Scotland looked sharp from the off and
might have broken through after four minutes had flyhalf Finn Russell
been able to find Huw Jones as the centre looked to finish a threatening
It proved to be a temporary reprieve for Ireland.
had them stretched in defence in the eighth minute and from quick ruck
possession Russell shipped a bouncing pass out wide to the right for
Hogg to score.
It was the Glasgow fullback's eighth try in the
Six Nations, taking him ahead of Chris Paterson as Scotland's top scorer
since the Championship expanded from five nations to six in 2000.
also became the first Scottish player to score in three successive
matches in the Championship since Gregor Townsend achieved the feat when
Scotland won the last Five Nations crown in 1999.
conversion put Scotland 7-0 up but they had to absorb some fierce
pressure before Hogg produced the piece of magic that conjured his
It came in the 20th minute, Russell and Jones zipping
out flat passes that found Hogg on the left, but with three defenders
ahead of him.
The 24-year-old happens to be a distant relative of
George Best and there were shades of the late, great former Manchester
United and Northern Ireland footballer as Hogg wrong-footed Earls with
an outrageous dummy and skipped past the other two defenders to touch
Laidlaw again converted, making it 14-0, but Ireland hit
back in the 25th minute, Earls scoring in the left corner, Jackson
failing to convert.
Three minutes later Scotland had their third try on the board and it was another stunner.
a lineout in the right corner, the Scots had three backs at the front
of the line - Laidlaw, wing Tommy Seymour and Alex Dunbar.
was a ploy that completely wrong-footed the Irish pack, Dunbar taking
the throw from replacement hooker Ross Ford for a score that must have
left Ireland coach Joe Schmidt aghast.
Laidlaw's conversion made it 21-5 to the Scots.
pegged back three points with a penalty but Scotland managed to snuff
out a Simon Zebo break in the final minute of an extraordinary opening
half to turn around 21-8 ahead.
Eight minutes into the second half
Ireland had their second try, Henderson burrowing over from a close
range ruck and Jackson converting to cut Scotland's lead to 21-15.
wing Sean Maitland made a try saving tackle on Rob Kearney in the 58th
minute but Ireland's incessant pressure told again three minutes later,
Jackson bursting over from ten metres and adding the conversion to put
his side ahead for the first time 22-21.
The momentum was with Ireland but Laidlaw's two late penalties saved the day for the Scots.