Ireland 28-8 Scotland: Ireland remain on Six Nations Grand Slam track
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 11/03/18 2:10pm
A Jacob Stockdale double, added to efforts from Conor Murray and Sean Cronin, ensured Ireland remain unbeaten in the Six Nations with a 28-8 victory over Scotland in Dublin.
Scotland looked the more threatening side going forward in the opening period, but two Stockdale efforts and a lack of clinical plays in the Irish 22 saw the visitors head in 14-3 down at the break.
Blair Kinghorn scored Scotland's only try in the defeat at the Aviva Stadium in the second half on the occasion of his first Test start, but it was far too little for the Scots.
Joe Schmidt's Ireland travel to Twickenham next Saturday on the Six Nations' final day seeking just their third Grand Slam for over 100 years, while Gregor Townsend's side make the trip to Rome to face Italy.
Six minutes in, Scotland No 8 Ryan Wilson was penalised for lying on the ball after a CJ Stander pick and go, but with Ireland having turned down the kick at goal for a five-metre attacking lineout, skipper Rory Best overthrew and the chance was gone.
Incessant Irish pressure was then ended after 11 minutes when hooker Stuart McInally won a brilliant breakdown penalty.
Two minutes later, it was Scotland who hit the front after their first foray into the Ireland half as Sean Maitland earned a breakdown penalty and Greig Laidlaw split the uprights, Scotland having got away with a Huw Jones knock-on in the build-up.
The breakdown continued to be a dogfight, and the lineout area inconsistent for both sides, but it was Ireland who scored the first try on 23 minutes.
For all of Scotland's resolute defence in the opening quarter, their concession was a gift for Stockdale as Peter Horne's poor left-hand pass fell invitingly for the Ulster winger to gobble up on halfway and run in under the sticks.
Scotland passed up their own gilt-edged chance on 29 minutes as Jones' superb build-up play - chipping ahead, regathering and searing past Rob Kearney - was undone as he failed to find Stuart Hogg with a simple-looking pass for what would have been a certain try.
Seven handling errors and six missed tackles was indicative of the tough opening half Ireland endured, but in the final minute of that period they crossed again.
A five-metre attacking scrum with the clock in red was worked out to the left wing as Garry Ringrose wrapped around centre partner Bundee Aki, received the return ball and flashed a pass out to Stockdale, who stepped inside Kinghorn to score.
Six minutes into the second period and Ireland were over again as Murray sniped off a rolling maul, and with Aki latching on, he slammed down for a 21-3 lead.
Scotland hit back six minutes after that, however, as Kinghorn finished spectacularly in the corner after a set-piece move off a scrum saw Hogg break to the right and Scotland shift it through for the winger to fly in.
The away side passed up another clear opening when Horne's pass to Kinghorn on the counter flew straight out, with Jones well-placed on a short ball.
With 10 minutes remaining, Ireland put the result beyond doubt and wrapped up the bonus-point as they turned down another penalty to kick to the corner, and at the back of a rolling maul, replacement hooker Cronin leaped over from close range.
Scotland pressed but could not find a way through as Ireland celebrated at the final whistle and turned attentions to Paris, aware England had to secure a bonus-point win to stop them sealing the title a week early.
Scotland again looked extremely dangerous from deep, with Hogg, Maitland, Kinghorn and Jones superb in broken field with ball in hand. The breakdown proved another area of strength for them also.
Ireland were powerful again and managed to plunder in the four tries they craved which is not to be sniffed at in a Six Nations encounter. They also registered a record-breaking 11th win a row.
Garry Ringrose came in at outside-centre and looked anything but a man playing just his seventh game all season. The Leinster back looked seriously sharp and a real threat going forward.
Murray and Sexton once again ran the game well, while Stockdale added two more tries to his growing catalogue - it all looks so easy for the 21-year-old!
Ireland looked a nervous side in the opening period, and committed a host of errors, which is very unlike them.
Knock-ons, dropped balls, passes straight into touch, a faltering lineout and missed tackles all features of a sub-par start.
They did recover to register points, but again looked open out wide and there are many areas to work on ahead of facing England next week.
For Scotland, it was a case of far too many clear chances slipping away. On another day, four tries instead of one would have been a near formality with the openings created.