By Rosie Foley
The opening weekend of the Six Nations did not go how many Irish fans thought it would. Ireland slumped to defeat against England but fought back against Scotland and left Edinburgh victorious.
England came to the Aviva and took charge. From the off England were targeting Johnny Sexton and it disrupted Irish attack. At half time England were leading 17-10 with tries from Jonny May and Elliot Daly. Cian Healy crossed the line for Ireland ensuring that the win was still in reach. However, it was not meant to be. Henry Slade scored two more tries in the second half. With John Cooney scoring Ireland’s only points of the second half, it was too little too late.
Joe Schmidt admitted that England were the better team on the day and Ireland couldn’t bring the physicality to the game.
‘Today they were better for sure, they beat us up.’
‘We got out muscled, they had a physical intent from the start’
Ireland suffered a big loss after this game as C J Stander suffered a fracture to his eye socket and cheekbone. He would not play against Scotland.
Looking for redemption after a monumental loss to England, Ireland looked to conquer at Murrayfield. Captain Rory Best said how it was vital that his side won as losing two games in a row would have been devastating for the team’s confidence.
The visitors started behind the home team with a penalty for the Scots but tries from Conor Murray and Jacob Stockdale put Ireland ahead. Just before half time Sam Johnson scored a try and closed the gap between the two teams by just two points. However, Keith Earls extended the visitors lead just after 60mins. Scotland had opportunities in the second half but their clinical errors meant that they could not execute their chances.
A significant substitution was Joey Carbery on for a blood replacement for Johnny Sexton. Carbery showed that he is a strong substitute for fly half and had an outstanding game.
Captain Peter O’Mahony praised the young 10 stepping into Sexton’s shoes.
‘I thought Joey did super and that’s ultimately what you need, when you lose a world-class player like Johnny so early on’.
Rob Kearney made his return at full-back for Ireland and it showed. He was dangerous under the high balls and hitting lines cutting through Scotland’s defence.
Ireland travel to Rome to take on Italy, if they build from their victory over Scotland they should come away from Stadio Olimpico with the win.