Six Nations 2014: Ireland 28-6 Scotland
IRELAND (11) 28
- Trimble, Heaslip, R Kearney
- Sexton 2
- Sexton 3
SCOTLAND (3) 6
- Laidlaw 2
Ireland recovered from a nervous first-half display to run out comfortable winners against a disappointing Scotland side in the Six Nations clash.
With Paul O'Connell a late withdrawal for the Irish, Scotland bossed early possession but Andrew Trimble's try put the home side 11-3 ahead at the break.
Greig Laidlaw's second penalty gave the Scots hope but Jamie Heaslip's try left Ireland in firm control.
As the Irish attack improved, Rob Kearney notched a third home touchdown.
Scotland's early dominance of possession against a hesitant Irish side suggested an upset could be on the cards, but the visiting attack had little penetration as the home side ran out comfortable winners.
Ahead of his first Six Nations match since taking charge, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt looked to have been dealt a major blow when captain O'Connell was ruled out after a chest infection worsened overnight.
With Ulster lock Dan Tuohy replacing O'Connell, there were particular questions about how the skipper's absence would impact on an Irish pack already missing injured Lions star Sean O'Brien.
However, the Irish back row trio of Heaslip, Chris Henry and Peter O'Mahony produced impressive displays as the Scots faded badly in the second half.
The home side still had talisman Brian O'Driscoll on the field, the centre earning an Irish record 129th cap.
With Heaslip assuming the Irish captaincy, early Scotland pressure yielded a fifth-minute penalty but Laidlaw's effort from 45 metres struck an upright.
A butchered Scottish line-out then gifted forward momentum to Ireland just short of halfway, and the home team rolled a maul to within inches of the line before over-elaboration resulted in a relieving scrum.
Johnny Sexton did kick the Irish into the lead on 14 minutes, but it was a somewhat nervous opening by the home side as they showed little of the invention which characterised their display against the All Blacks in November.
The Scots were back on terms in the 19th minute as Laidlaw slotted over from just inside the 10-metre line after Devin Toner had been penalised for not rolling away.
Probably influenced by O'Connell's absence, the Irish were reluctant to kick for touch in the opening 20 minutes but that was giving the Scots opportunity to run with ball in hand.
An offside infringement allowed Sexton to restore Ireland's lead in the 23rd minute but the Scots were continuing to boss possession.
They turned down a kickable shot at the posts in the 29th minute but, after losing the initial line-out, went close to scoring the game's opening try as Dave Denton was bundled into touch by a last-ditch Peter O'Mahony tackle.
Scotland wing Sean Maitland had to be replaced by Max Evans because of an ankle injury in the 31st minute after landing awkwardly following an aerial duel with Dave Kearney.
Just before the break Sexton's magnificent break from the edge of his own 22 ended with Heaslip being forced into touch at the corner flag by Evans as he attempted to ground.
Scotland's resultant line-out saw the Irish earn a penalty to keep the pressure on the visitors and their decision to go for another line-out was rewarded as Irish numbers out wide ended with Trimble crossing after fast hands from Marshall and Rob Kearney.
Sexton missed the apparently straightforward conversion but, having playing second fiddle with possession for all of the first half, the Irish suddenly found themselves 11-3 ahead at half-time.
Scotland needed to score first after the break - and they managed it with Laidlaw's second successful penalty on 43 minutes.
But the Irish effectively put the game to bed three minutes later as another rolling maul breached a powder-puff Scottish defence with Heaslip touching down after the Irish had turned down another probable routine three points to opt for a line-out.
Sexton added the conversion and, as the Irish attack was finally finding some fluency, he added another three points in the 57th minute to extend the advantage to 15 points.
As the Irish emptied their bench, Rob Kearney broke through some more weak Scottish defence to notch the home team's third try 10 minutes from time.
Ireland: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Andrew Trimble, 13-Brian O'Driscoll, 12-Luke Marshall, 11-Dave Kearney, 10-Jonny Sexton, 9-Conor Murray; 1-Cian Healy, 2-Rory Best, 3-Mike Ross, 4-Devin Toner, 5-Dan Tuohy, 6-Peter O'Mahony, 7-Chris Henry, 8-Jamie Heaslip
Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin for Best 65, 17-Jack McGrath for Healy 63, 18-Martin Moore for Ross 62, 19-Iain Henderson for Toner 73, 20-Tommy O'Donnell for O'Mahony 65, 21-Isaac Boss for Murray 72, 22-Paddy Jackson Sexton 72; 23. Fergus McFadden for O'Driscoll 72
Scotland: 15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Sean Maitland, 13-Alex Dunbar, 12-Duncan Taylor, 11-Sean Lamont, 10-Duncan Weir, 9-Greig Laidlaw; 1-Ryan Grant, 2-Ross Ford, 3-Moray Low, 4-Tim Swinson, 5-Jim Hamilton, 6-Ryan Wilson, 7-Kelly Brown, 8-David Denton
Replacements: 16-Pat MacArthur for Ford 67, 17-Alasdair Dickinson for Grant 52, 18-Geoff Cross for Low 65, 19-Richie Gray for Hamilton 56, 20-Johnnie Beattie for Brown 56, 21-Chris Cusiter for Laidlaw 73, 22-Matt Scott for Taylor 64; 23-Max Evans for Maitland 31
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) and Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TV: Carlo Damasco (Italy)