Scotland 24-27 Ireland: Six Nations hopes end at Murrayfield

The Scots produce an error-strewn performance as they lose out to Ireland once again.

Scotland 24-27 Ireland: Six Nations hopes end at Murrayfield SNS Group

Scotland fought back from 14 points down but fell short as self-inflicted wounds haunted them against Ireland.

It was a match riddled with errors from Gregor Townsend’s side but they still could have snatched something from the match after drawing level with just four minutes to play.

Inaccuracy again reared its head though as a late penalty from Johnny Sexton sealed the win.

Sluggish Scotland were second to everything in the opening phases as Sexton kicked the first three points from a penalty in front of the posts.

The veteran fly half then set up Robbie Henshaw to score with an up-and-under which squirmed away from Hogg and Chris Harris to land perfectly for the centre to dot down with just eight minutes on the clock.

The men in dark blue looked rusty and could thank the breakdown handiwork of Hamish Watson for reliving the pressure when Ireland looked odds-on to extend their lead.

The game became loose as both sides tried to push for an opening and when it came it was as harum-scarum as the match deserved.

After a period of handling errors and turnovers Hogg charged down a kick, hacked forward and saw the ball ricochet off his face – not a knock-on – before dropping for Russell to scoop up and score.

Russell added the extras and with 28 minutes gone Scotland had the lead for the first time.

When the Scots least needed it their ill-disciplined streak reared its head and Sexton was able to add two penalties in the final five minutes of the half to ensure a 14-10 half-time lead for the visitors.

Though Townsend’s men began the second period with some structured phase play Ireland’s breakdown was sharper and they won the ball back and did not look back.

Pressure built, Scotland conceded more penalties and eventually Tadhg Beirne muscled over the line to extended the lead to 11 points.

The outlook was bleak as Scotland unloaded the bench down by two scores but it was a replacement who rekindled some hope. Huw Jones scythed through the Irish defence to score on the hour mark and Hogg kicked to take the score to 17-24.

Finally the hosts had momentum and kept it. While Finn Russell was assessed for a head injury the forwards – minus the injured Scott Cummings – battered away at the emerald door and finally found a way through with Hamish Watson.

With just six minutes remaining on the clock the match was tied at 24-24.

This epic of a match never took long to provide another twist though. Ali price was charged down then jackaled in his own 22 and the penalty was kick beautifully from the touchline by Sexton to restore the lead, and secure the victory.

Scotland player ratings

Stuart Hogg 7 – Led from the front with some terrier-like defence to add to his trademark attacking running
Sean Maitland 7 – Chase and defence was on point and reliable when filling at full back too
Chris Harris 6 – Unable to make a mark in attack
Sam Johnson 6 – Grew into the match after a quiet start on his international return
Duhan van der Merwe 6 – Always searching for work and enjoyed the physical battle in contact
Finn Russell 6 – Some lovely delivery from first receiver but boot let him down at some critical moments
Ali Price 6 – Frustrating day at the office as individual and team errors killed momentum
Rory Sutherland 6 – Did a lot of the dirty work during a hard shift at the coal face
George Turner 5 – Throws were off and it seemed to sap confidence from the hooker and the pack
WP Nel 5 – Veteran prop found Cain Healy a tough adversary in scrum
Scott Cummings 6 – Has to share blame in line-out calling but made good collisions
Jonny Gray 6 – Soldiered on through shoulder injury for a tough shift in the boiler room
Jamie Ritchie 6 – Won some battles on the deck but found himself on the wrong side of the referee at times as well
Hamish Watson 8 – On top form in front of watching Lions boss Warren Gatland
Matt Fagerson 7 – Made some strong carries and always willing to try and get Scotland on the front foot
Replacements 8 – Breathed life into what was looking like a lost cause

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