Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lacklustre Ireland Do Just Enough

Six Nations Game 10 - Scotland vs Ireland (18-19)

Scotland started relatively hesitantly, but still smarting from the first seven minutes of their game, it was perhaps understandable.

Ireland got a couple of penalty kicks in the first ten minutes; Ronan O'Gara punted one over but missed the second. Ireland then began to get into gear, winning lineouts and running the ball. Pushing their forwards up the field in mauls. Girvan Dempsey [left] fumbled a pass in the Scottish 22 which would probably have been a try if he'd have held on.

Round about 15 minutes, Scotland made a break, and were awarded a penalty kick - Chris Paterson duely did the honours to make it 3-3.

Each side had a little go at the other, and Ireland looked dangerous when they got the ball, but for the first 20 minutes, it wasn't the massacre that perhaps observers were expecting.

Sean Lamont [right] made a great break around 25 minutes, and Chris Paterson took a pass to charge up to the Irish 22, but he was brought down and gave away a penalty for holding on.

Close to the half hour, Ireland made a forward pass; the teams had a go at a little handbags, and Brian O'Driscoll was singled out. Ireland were pushed back 10m and Scotland had a lineout. However, off the back of that, Dan Parks' kick was charged down by Ronan O'Gara, and three or four passes later, O'Gara was through the sticks. The conversion was good, and it was 3-10 to the visitors.

After the restart, Scotland stole a lineout and made excellent headway up the field. They were then awarded a scrum on the Irish 5m line. They swung it out wide and got rucked at the other side of the field. Scotland knocked on, so it was an Irish scrum this time on 5m. Surprisingly, Ireland gave away a penalty when the front row went to ground. Paterson kicked the points, to claw it back to 6-10.

Three minutes to half time, Scott Murray was pinged for holding on, and Ronan O'Gara took the points with his boot, making 6-13.

Scotland were making good progress, going through the phases, but an Irish tackler failed to roll away, and Scotland were awarded another penatly 39m out. Paterson did the honours - keeping in touch at 9-13 at half time.

Just after the restart, Nathan Hines was penalised for not rolling away, and the ref sent him to the bin, having warned them all in the first half. Ireland had a lineout close to the Scottlish line, and got within 1m, but Scotland turned them over, despite being a man down. Sean Lamont came in for the scrum so at least the blues still had 8 men to pus. Despite pressure, Dan Parks [left] managed to clear to the 10m line.

Ireland won their lineout and ran it quite a way up field, but lost it into touch after an iffy pass.

Around 47 minutes, Ireland made another big break, Denis Hickey looking certain for a try, but Sean Lamont managed to bundle him into touch right at the corner flag, and Scotland had a 22m dropout.

After the restart, Brian O'Driscoll passed forward to Denis Leamy, so Scotland won the put-in. Then the Scottish forwards went for a trundle and rumble, going through half a dozen phases until Ireland infringed - Paul O'Connell [right] coming in from the side and the Scots were looking at a punt at goal. Parks did the honours to bring the blues within one point of Ireland.

So Scotland were immensely lucky to survive Hines' spell in the bin without shipping any points, even more lucky to score another three!

Ireland pushed again, but Chris Cusiter [left] made a fantastic hit on O'Gara to bundle him into touch. The Scots won the resulting lineout, but lost it when Murray caught a pass with his foot on the line. Ireland messed up their lineout, not straight, and so Scotland got the scrum put-in.

A few moves on, Scotland had a 7m lineout, won by Scott Murray, and the forwards went for a drive, albeit slow to start. They were pushed backwards, then the ball changed hands several times. Scotland were camped in the Irish 22 for a few minutes, and Paterson's drop goal attempt went wide, but with 20 minutes to go, he was able to put Scotland ahead with a penalty - 15-13, game on.

This seemed to fire up Ireland, and they looked like they were going somewhere, but a Scottish clearance kick landed loose in the Irish 22 and was fumbled into touch to give the blues a lineout. They won it, but were penalised for holding on. The Irish kick missed touch and Scotland had another go at running the ball. Ireland were penalised next, coming into the side of a ruck. Paterson opted to kick for the sticks, and did the honours, his 20th in a row. So, with 15 minutes left, the Scots were up 18-13, to the surprise of everyone.

Ireland won another penalty shortly after the restart (blues not rolling away). O'Gara took the points from 30m out, and the Scot's lead was cut to 2 points. Nailbiting stuff for the supporters at Murrayfield.

With 12 minutes left, Denis Leamy was replaced by Neil Best [right] and made some progress into the Scottish half. They were awarded another penalty, taken by O'Gara, so they were then 1 point clear, at 18-19.

As the final ten minutes unfolded, Ireland started to wake up, getting a few runs in and winning another penalty in the Scottish half. It was a long shot at 47m and it didn't quite make it over the bar.

The Scots took it upfield for a short way but were turned over and Ireland turned the screws again. Close to the Scottish line, Brian O'Driscoll went down injured after being tackled. Then Scotland chased a kick ahead from Sean Lamont, which Peter Stringer failed to gather cleanly. Scotland got the resulting scrum and the blues crept up the field, but knocked on in Irish territory.

Ireland's scrum was solid, and with under two minutes to go, all they had to do was hold on to the ball and not give it back to Scotland. O'Gara had to kick for touch, and the Scots had a lineout was won safely. Another run up the field was stopped at the half way line. They regrouped, but it was turned over by Paul O'Connell. The whislte blew, and the men in Green were relieved to have held on for a one point win, and the 2007 Triple Crown.

Or read my ten word review.

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