Rugby

Ireland retain the Six Nations after hard-fought win over Scotland

Late Andrew Porter try settles the nerves as Andy Farrell’s men collect back-to-back championships

Ireland did their job in Dublin
Ireland did their job in Dublin Ireland did their job in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland have retained their Six Nations crown, beating Scotland by a score of 17-13.

The game was far from a breeze for Andy Farrell’s men, having multiple chances to put the game to bed early, but Scotland proved a tough opponent, stopping Ireland on multiple occasions.

However it was Ireland’s day as they eventually got the scores late on to run out victorious and gave the crowd in Dublin a night to remember.

Ireland got off to a rough start when an early block by Andy Christie on James Lowe’s kick put the home side under pressure but were able to regain ground quickly.

Lowe had an eventful first 10 minutes, having had a kick charged down by Andy Christie and then getting a crawling penalty after an impressive catch, which Finn Russell dispatched with ease to get the Tartan Army on the scoreboard.

Ireland turned on the style and reminded everyone why they were in the driving seat of this championship, when Dan Sheehan cleanly intercepted an overthrown lineout and snuck over the line to give Ireland the lead after 15 minutes, with Jack Crowley converting.

Finn Russell continued his great kicking form as he converted another penalty, this time from 22 metres out, to put Scotland within one of the home side one quarter in.

Ireland quickly retaliated, stepping on the gas and getting to Scotland’s 22 within two minutes of Russell’s kick.

A missed tackle by Bundee Aki on 27 minutes saw Scotland gain major territory and seemed to have them on the front foot with Ireland falling victim to penalty after penalty.

As the first half progressed, it seemed as though Ireland couldn’t get their usual rhythm and were locked in a stalemate with Scotland in the scrum and the backs’ kicking game.

Jack Crowley missed the chance to put a bit of daylight between the sides when he kicked left of the posts on 35 minutes.

More and more it seemed that Ireland were just content with keeping Scotland at bay and getting the trophy by any means necessary.

At half-time, Scotland would go in the happier team as they kept their discipline and looked like the side that was more comfortable in the circumstances.

Ireland had to reduce the amount of penalties they were conceding and put their foot down if they were to make sure of a second consecutive Six Nations win.

Three minutes into the second period, Jack Crowley converted from about 20 metres to atone for his earlier miss by putting some breathing room between the sides and made the score 10-6.

The out-half then kicked a 50-22 to gain Ireland some vital ground, with the crowd serenading him with the Fields of Athenry.

The momentum was in the green corner with Ireland winning a penalty five metres out, and after some resilience and some debate from officials, Tadhg Furlong looked to have put the ball over the line to put Ireland further in front.

However, it was judged that Furlong lost control of the ball in the grounding and a knock-on was the ruling and the crowd made sure that they let the referee, Matthew Carley know that they did not agree.

At 51 minutes, Ireland seemed to find another gear, after a huge win in the scrum in midfield, it was like they all knew it was go time, quick passing ensued, followed by a kick chase that backed Scotland into their own corner.

This positive move nearly resulted in a try, when Calvin Nash was just denied by last-ditch defending from Scotland after ducking and swerving tackles to come within a metre or so of the line.

The Tartan Army had been stunned by Ireland’s speed since the second half started up to that point.

Scotland seemed to have more and more errors creeping into their game, with Blair Kinghorn’s drop giving Ireland a line-out five metres out.

From this Ireland kept pushing and pushing, coming within inches of lengthening the lead but Garry Ringrose dropped a pass and Scotland were awarded the scrum, throwing a spanner in the Irish momentum.

The atmosphere grew more and more tense with every opportunity Ireland squandered, with the crowd growing restless and impatient.

Ringrose redeemed himself somewhat with a wing run that gained Ireland more than half the field.

From here, Ireland fought on as they looked to shore up the Championship, however, Robbie Henshaw’s drive was held up by Scotland who were judged to have committed a foul, with Ewan Ashman being shown a yellow card.

Having taken the tap and driven at the Scottish defence, Andrew Porter finally drove the ball over the line, with the outpour of relief from the Dublin crowd being felt from every corner of the island.

Jack Crowley stuck the conversion between the posts to make it 17-6 to Ireland.

With 10 minutes to go, Ireland lost Harry Byrne for the rest of the game, having tackled high.

Soon after, Huw Jones slalomed through Ireland after a line break to reduce the deficit to four points after Russell converted.

The final whistle blew and Zombie echoed throughout the stadium and the nation could breathe a sigh of relief.

Ireland were champions of the Six Nations once again and this side showed just how tough they can be.