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Ireland 32 – 14 Scotland

Ireland vs Scotland

Neither side headed into this clash at the Aviva Stadium aka Lansdowne Road II aka The Bed Pan having really taken their chances in the tournament thus far. Ireland at least had taken some points from Italy and France although not perhaps as many as they might have liked, while Scotland had none despite deserving more.

Unfortunately, Scotland took a few steps back and in the end an unspectacular but grimly effective Ireland side took the points and the positives.

The first half was pretty decent up to a point, and that point was just after Richie Gray’s astounding dummy on Rob Kearney and the lumbering try that followed. Scotland had the momentum, and were well and truly back in the match. Then a mis-fired kick from Ireland gave Lee Jones an easy mark. Clear the ball, hold out for half time. Simple.

Only Jones passed it to Hogg who tried to run it through an improbably tight gap, and he found that international defences aren’t always as forgiving as the French were to his silky running. Laidlaw couldn’t clear it nearly as far when the Irish pressed, and gifted them an easy attacking platform with which to snatch the momentum back just before half time. Scotland were not out of this match until almost 70 minutes, but that 2-3 minute spell was the only period when they actually acted like it.

The main problem though is still lapses and concentration, and when you mix that in with a relative lack of experience in leadership areas that will lead to poor decision making and silly penalties. What was most worrying was the decision to spurn a try from a second driving maul in favour of 3 points, and then in the second half the decisions to reject the points from the penalties Ireland kept gifting us in favour of chasing increasingly unlikely tries.

They were chasing a game that wasn’t running away from them.

Lamont and Morrison battled manfully, and Morrison caused trouble in defence and several crucial tackles, including holding Bowe up over the line after a mischievous cross field kick from Sexton. Gray and Denton were very good again, and Rennie was taken off a little earlier than he might have liked. John Barclay had another effective game and looked for work ball carrying. The scrum was still fairly poor, and aside from a couple of stolen balls late on from Man of the Match Donnacha Ryan, the lineout was pretty secure. The arrival of Euan Murray did little to change this, in fact the scrum seemed almost to get worse. Top class props with Scottish grannies, look out.

Debut referee Chris Pollock went reasonably well, he listened to his touch judges and acted swiftly when Jones was knocked out and generally gave both sides a fair shout. But the Irish were warned twice for repeated infringement yet the first yellow card came out for Max Evans. Evans (who hasn’t had his troubles to seek these past weeks) was binned after he collided slightly with Keith Earls off the ball who then collapsed to the ground a little too easily. It wouldn’t have been a penalty try, in fact Earls would have been unlikely to get past the other defenders, but the instant he went to ground the damage was done.

Ford and Evans protested, but they sensed as we all did that the game that Scotland didn’t need to chase had up and run away on them again.

Rory has more thoughts on the match over at Rugby World.

17 Responses

  1. The game left me feeling a little flat. It just felt like a couple of steps backwards but maybe that’s because the Irish defence gave us less space than the French and the Welsh.

    Aside from the Richie Gray try we just seemed a little bit short on ideas and imagination. Don’t think any one player had a bad game but then, probably with the exception of Morrison and Denton I don’t think anyone particularly shone either.

  2. “They were chasing a game that wasn’t running away from them” Perfectly sums it up.
    I wonder if we should be questioning Fords judgement as captain. His role is to make sure the right decisions are taken on the pitch.
    Three really bad decisions.
    – Taking the 3 points from a great position when the ref had warned the Irish twice and was clearly about to card someone.
    – Lamont trying to charge Reddan when he squirmed through rather than make sure he made his tackle.
    – Not making sure we ran the clock down into half time and giving that try away.
    The other thing is we just don’t recycle the ball as quickly as we should. We actually have some very damaging runners now but if we don’t ship it out fast enough we just aren’t giving them a chance.
    Finally Earls is a disgrace. That was an out and out dive to get Evans sent off, cynical and shameful. That should be what citing is for.

  3. Injury Update: Lee Jones, the 23-year-old Scotland wing, is making “good progress” in hospital in Dublin Sunday after the head injury he sustained in last night’s RBS 6 Nations Championship against Ireland.

    Scotland team doctor James Robson said today: “Lee took a blow to the head which resulted in a severe concussion. He remained in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, overnight in the care of consultant John Ryan.

    “He has made good progress overnight and will stay in hospital this morning until the consultant is happy for him to be released.

    He is scheduled to travel back to Scotland Monday.

    “We would like to thank John and his team for the expert help given to us.”

    Four other players will require further medical attention and assessment following the game at the Aviva Stadium – back-row forwards John Barclay (ribs) and David Denton (shin bruising), scrum-half Mike Blair (shoulder) and centre Max Evans (dead leg). In addition a number of other players have what Dr Robson described as “lesser soft-tissue” injuries.

    The Scotland party flew back to Edinburgh Sunday afternoon and will be in camp to prepare for Saturday’s final RBS 6 Nations Championship match against Italy in Rome.

  4. Pretty grim stuff on Saturday. Definitely the poorest we’ve played for a long time against an average (by their standards) Irish side. Defence was awful, as was the set piece. What dismayed me most was the lack of heart in the second half, the players just didn’t seem to believe in themselves. The only players to get pass marks were Gray, Denton and Morrison. Combine Saturday’s performance with the decision to replace Sean Lineen with Gregor Townsend, it’s been a brutal weekend.

  5. I read with interest the comments last week on how the Scots would combat the “streetwise Irish” and if this was achieved victory would be the natural consequence. Was it the cuteness of the Irish which was the difference between the two teams on Saturday , think not. I put forward the following reasons for victory, better players, tactical nous (both coaching and on the field),greater physicality, better skill sets. So lets have no more of the self delusional streetwise comments please , its time for a degree of Scottish introspection to sort out the ills of the national side.

    1. I don’t think it was ever “would be the natural consequence”, more “could be a natural consequence”. Tactical nous and greater physicality, sure. The Irish threw plenty of crap passes, missed tackles and gave away stupid penalties. I don’t agree that their players are better than ours in every case, but they played much better on Saturday.

  6. When it was a Scottish scrum the whole pack concentrated on pushing but on the Irish scrum the Scottish backrow were lifting their heads getting ready to break early when the Irish win their scrum but what often happens is the Irish finding no resistance keep the ball in and force a penalty. It is not just the Scottish who are guilty of this fault most teams do it but if they concentrate on a 8 men push instead they could force the Irish into making mistakes instead. I played hooker and have also played in the backrow so I know what how much it is the whole pack that wins the scrum not just the tight 5.

  7. I think this Scottish team is a good scrum away from competing. We still have a promising generation coming through which we should be positive about. Yes Robinson’s results haven’t been good but I’d rather 4 losses where we look potent and capable than 3 losses and 1 ugly victory where we won 15-12 in hail and rain and a solid defensive performance. Those sort of results that we’ve had in the past few years aren’t progress even if they are a win. What is happening now is progress. Robinson must stay, we are getting better.

  8. Totally disagree. Sure there has been very good progress on the performance and there is a good group of players at the moment but Robinson has been saying the same thing for the last 3 years. When Beattie, Barclay and Brown were playing superbly 2 seasons ago it was the same chat. Good performance, poor results. He is a good coach but dreadful tactician and awful selector. At the world cup we narrowly beat Romania and Georgia and since then have lost 6 games on the trot plummeting the rankings. On the back of the world cup he has booted out a defence coach who has done a great job and from what has been said is genuinely liked by the players and kept faith with an attack coach who has not delivered and can count himself extremely lucky to now be the Glasgow coach. Look at the selections he has made in the last year. Barclay was playing terribly for Glasgow and Rennie playing well for Edinburgh. He picks Barclay for the WC. Blair and Laidlaw playing superbly for Edinburgh, talks Parks out of retirement and plays Cusiter and then plays Cusiter with Blair. Hogg showing great promise for Glasgow, gets picked out of necessity due to injury. Every change to the good has not been Robinson making those selections but getting those forced upon him. He is far too loyal to those players that he likes and does not look at form and who is playing well at that moment. This group of players needs a head coach who can pick a team and get the best out of them. Robinson has proven he cannot do that.

    1. Nick Mallet or Stuart Lancaster as one will not get the England job. John Kirwin, Ian McGeechan (Andy Robinson will go straight to Bath should he step down or be relieved of his duties). If Scotland lose on Saturday then I cannot see someone as competitive as Andy Robinson staying on considering he set himself the target of 3 wins this year. A wooden spoon would be the final nail in my opinion.

    2. Mallett will not want the Scotland job, that is certain. McGeechan would be silly to take it, he doesn’t need anything to add to his CV. Don’t see how Kirwan would be any better? Any evidence to suggest he would take Scotland forward? Lancaster…if England decided he isn’t good enough at the top level, why should Scotland settle for him? Robinson is making progress.

  9. Are you Nick Mallet? He coached Italy so why would he not want to coach Scotland. McGeechan needs to add nothing to his CV but he is Scottish and there is a group of players that has potential to do something good. The only reason Lancaster wont get the England job is because the RFU will want to cover their arses and pick experience. He has shown how to unite a squad and pick the young players on form…something Robinson does not. He has also just taken a team that everyone in Scotland expected to beat to Murrayfield, Rome and Paris and won. Robinson’s team has played well 3 times and lost 4 games. Which record is better? Scotland settled for England’s cast off in Robinson when they employed him. Are you forgetting England fired him cos he was dreadful there too?

    1. Yes I am Nick Mallett… I think the fact that he has just left the Italy job is one reason he wouldn’t take on Scotland right now.

      Scotland are getting better, progress is being made. Reactionary chopping and changing of the head coach will do no good.

    2. Explain your rationale behind why he wouldn’t want to coach Scotland having coached Italy, a team with limited capabilities? He is clearly wanting back into international rugby. Robinson has had a good shot at getting something from Scotland and failed time and again. A change is exactly what is needed to try something new as the players are there but the correct selection and man management is not.

    3. Maybe he doesn’t want to keep coaching the nearly sides. Understandably, he probably wants to have a shot at winning a World Cup rather than pulling a side off the bottom of the 6 Nations.

  10. I got up in the early hours of the morning once again to watch a dreadful Scottish attempt to beat Ireland.
    What makes it worse is that Ireland have a rubbish team aswell.
    Sack the coach, get rid of some of the tiring forwards, eg Jacobsen and move on.
    Everybody says they will improve, but they are not. Unfortunately we are running out of opposition to do that.
    Unless we start playing teams like Romania. Oh hang on, maybe thats not a good idea either.
    50% of the scottish forwards are good, the backline is okay. But there move options are terrible. Passing behind the man is an old move that is to easily defended. If you want to do it properly watch the Australian NRL.
    I hope we get better, one day. I’ve been waiting since 1992.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion