Six Nations Championship
Frustrated Scotland see hopes of glory fizzle out
Defeated: Another home loss for Scots (pic: SNS Group)
Scotland 24 Ireland 27
A Six Nations championship which started off with so much sparkle for Scotland has quickly gone flat after another disappointing home defeat.
The famous victory over England at Twickenham early last month seems like yesteryear after Gregor Townsend’s side followed their loss to Wales with another reverse at the hands of the Irish.
The defeat at Murrayfield extinguished any hopes Scotland had of winning this year’s Six Nations, something which will be hard for the players to accept so soon after their heroics in London.
Going into the match, the Scots had won just three out their last 19 Six Nations clashes with Ireland, and indiscipline in the home ranks saw that poor run extended. A fifth-place position in the table makes for depressing reading for Scotland and their supporters, although they have two games still to play after the Italy postponement.
The visitors opened up a 14-point lead in the second half, only for the Scots to haul their way back into the game, Hamish Watson’s converted try levelling the match at 24-24 with four minutes remaining.
No sooner had they given themselves a platform to snatch victory, though, than they handed the initiative straight back to Ireland by conceding a penalty in the very next play which Johnny Sexton sent between the posts for the win.
It’s the first time in six years that Scotland have lost three home games in a row and Townsend said: “We put in huge effort to get it back to 24-24, but the work on is making sure we don’t give big leads to the opposition.
“I thought we started poorly, we couldn’t get possession and they got points on the board early.”
Captain Stuart Hogg also lamented the slow start his side made, saying: “The frustrating thing is giving them 24 points in the first place.
“Credit to Ireland, they took their opportunities, but for the second game in a row, we’ve been ill-disciplined and given easy field position and killed ourselves at times.
“We’ve given them good positions and they’ve executed it well, so fair play to them.
“We scored 24 points playing the way we want to play. We are scoring tries by throwing the ball around, but we can be a bit more clinical at times.”
Scotland: 15-Stuart Hogg (capt), 14-Sean Maitland, 13-Chris Harris, 12-Sam Johnson, 11-Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Ali Price; 1-Rory Sutherland, 2-George Turner, 3-WP Nel, 4-Scott Cummings, 5-Jonny Gray, 6-Jamie Ritchie, 7-Hamish Watson, 8-Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: 16-David Cherry, 17-Jamie Bhatti, 18-Simon Berghan, 19-Grant Gilchrist, 20-Nick Haining, 21-Scott Steele, 22-Huw Jones, 23-Darcy Graham.
Scores: Scotland – Tries: Russell, Jones, Watson; Conversions – Russell, Hogg (2); Penalties – Russell. Ireland – Tries: Henshaw, Beirne; Conversions – Sexton; Penalties – Sexton (5).
In the weekend’s earlier matches, England defeated France 23-20 at Twickenham, while Wales beat Italy 48-7 in Rome to set up a Grand Slam chance against France in Paris next Saturday.