Scotland edge past Ireland

  • Last Updated: February 24 2013, 18:16 GMT

Greig Laidlaw kicked four penalties as Scotland continued their resurgence by inflicting a maddening 12-8 defeat on Ireland in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash at Murrayfield.

Duncan Weir and Stuart Hogg celebrate
Duncan Weir and Stuart Hogg celebrate

The Scots trailed 3-0 at half-time but should have been dead and buried, with Ireland enjoying an extraordinary advantage in possession and territory only to be hamstrung by poor decision-making and inaccuracy in the 22.

When wing Craig Gilroy scored the match's only try in the 44th minute, the Irish finally seemed ready to reflect their dominance on the scoreboard.

But the score inspired battered Scotland, and Scott Johnson's players launched a stubborn fightback that drained the confidence from their opponents and renewed their own self-belief.

Laidlaw's flawless kicking swept them clear as they celebrated their first back-to-back wins in the Six Nations since 2001, having routed Italy two weeks ago.

Injury-depleted Ireland's decision to play uncapped Ulster duo Luke Marshall and Paddy Jackson produced mixed results, with the former enjoying a strong debut and the latter a harrowing afternoon.

Marshall's powerful running at inside centre was a key feature of his side's attack and he looked comfortable at this level, although at times he was aided by weak defending.

But Jackson, chosen ahead of substitute Ronan O'Gara at fly-half, missed eight points from the kicking tee and was replaced by the Munster veteran with 15 minutes to go.

The change in personnel failed to stop the rot, leaving Ireland to wonder how they managed to lose a game they should have won comfortably, and it is a result that increases the pressure on coach Declan Kidney.

Mna of the match Jim Hamilton hailed a "massive win" for Scotland and told BBC 1: "I think you can see what it means to the boys and the supporters here. That is a massive win for us.

"The support here was absolutely outstanding today and you saw what it meant to the boys hanging on in there at the end.

"We have put a lot of work into our line-out and scrum. I thought our scrum was absolutely immense.

"I think a special mention has to go to Geoff Cross today - he has come in and done a magnificent job. Credit to all the forwards.

"We really dug deep today and I think you can see that means a lot to us.

"We knew Ireland notoriously start well and we hung in there in the first half.

"To go in (at half-time) at 3-0 to Ireland was probably a good outcome for us. We went out in the second half and had to dig deep, and we took our chances."

Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson was delighted with the result, but stressed that the contest showed there was work for his players to do performance-wise.

The Australian said: "I am happy for the boys because it showed a different side to us.

"We probably should have been well behind at half-time and I think we showed great resolve.

"If we combine the resolve and the skill-set we think we can, we can do some damage.

"I'm happy but we go back to what we originally spoke about before the game - about performance, and there is plenty in that performance that we need to improve on.

"They (Ireland) felt they should have been well in front on the scoreboard and that creates its own pressure.

"You have to ride your luck sometimes in this game and what we can't do is get too carried away with it.

"We are proud of the victory but have to give an honest assessment that we need to improve."

Asked if he fancied the job of head coach full-time, Johnson said: "I keep saying - let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

"I said I would sit down with the board at this completion of this, and we will do that and decide what is in the best interests of Scotland."


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