Six Nations: Scotland 10 – 40 Ireland

Ireland put in a professional and adept performance to beat a poor Scotland side 40-10 at Murrayfield.

Only England can prevent Ireland retaining the Six Nations title now as the 30-point winning margin saw them overtake Wales who had earlier dismantled Italy 61-20 in Rome.

Sean O’Brien was among the star performers as the flanker scored two tries in a resolute performance from Joe Schmidt’s side.

Scotland have the indignity of winning the wooden spoon having lost every match, and failed to get their name on the scoreboard in the second half.

Ireland knew that they needed to win by 21 points at least in order to overtake Wales who had won by 61 points to 20 in Italy earlier in the day.

Captain Paul O’Connell gave his Irish side the perfect start, crossing the try-line within five minutes to give his side an early boost. Johnny Sexton converted.

Sexton added a penalty to half Wales’ advantage on Ireland in under ten minutes, but Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw cut the Irish lead to seven points in the 18th minute.

Ireland’s Jared Payne was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch as he took down Adam Ashe in the air, with the Scottish player landing on his arm as a result.

Irish flanker Sean O’Brien slipped through the Scottish defence on 25 minutes to add to his side’s lead with another try that was once again converted by the prolific Sexton.

Despite this early flurry of Irish scores Scotland never looked overawed and responded well through a converted Finn Russell try ten minutes before the half time break, but Sexton responded minutes later with his second penalty kick.

Vern Cotter’s Scotland side failed to take advantage of some late pressure in the second half; Stuart Hogg went over but was penalised for a knock on just before the break.

And on the referee’s whistle Ireland were 20-10 up, needing to extend their winning margin of ten points by eleven to have hope of securing the championship.

Much like the opening ten minutes of the first half, Ireland started well in the second, first a Sexton penalty and then a Payne try under the posts to put his side within one point of the championship lead.

Three minutes later Ireland had the chance to take that lead, but the usually reliable Sexton struck the post from a penalty, demonstrating the nerves that come with such a crucial match.

Sexton had the chance to redeem himself minutes later after Geoff Cross had conceded a penalty for which he was given a yellow card as well. However Sexton once again couldn’t convert.

On 61 minutes though Sexton managed to regain his rhythm and give Ireland a 23-point lead which would be enough for them to overtake Wales in the championship race.

After a nervy ten minutes O’Brien scored his second try which was converted to extend Ireland’s lead to 30 points in the 71st minute, to put some breathing space between his side and Wales.

There was nearly a sting in the tail from Scotland as Italy had provided Wales, but a magnificent Jamie Heaslip tackle forced Hogg to knock on in the Irish try zone.

That was the last major action of the match as Ireland held out to maintain their record-breaking 30-point lead at Murrayfield, their biggest win ever in Scotland.

Now to Twickenham, where England need to beat France by at least 26 points if they are to win the Six Nations.

Scotland XV: Stuart Hogg, Dougie Fife, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (c); Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Jim Hamilton, Jonny Gray, Adam Ashe, Blair Cowan, David Denton

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Alasdair Dickinson, Geoff Cross, Tim Swinson, Rob Harley, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Greg Tonks, Tim Visser

Ireland XV: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Luke Fitzgerald, Jonathan Sexton,Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Paul O’Connell (c), Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien,Jamie Heaslip

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Felix Jones

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