Six Nations 2016: Ireland 35-25 Scotland
|Ireland: (21) 35|
|Tries: Stander, Earls, Murray, Toner Cons: Sexton 3 Pens: Sexton 3|
|Scotland: (13) 25|
|Tries: Hogg, Gray, Dunbar Cons: Laidlaw 2 Pens: Laidlaw 2|
Ireland finished a challenging Six Nations with a four try-to-three victory in a feisty contest in Dublin.
Joe Schmidt's side were mostly dominant, responding to Stuart Hogg's magnificent solo try with first-half scores for CJ Stander and Keith Earls.
Conor Murray scored a third early in the second half to make it 28-13, but Richie Gray's score narrowed the gap.
Devin Toner's try with 12 minutes left settled it, but Alex Dunbar still crossed for a consolation late on.
It was only the 2015 champions' second win of the campaign after last week's nine-try hammering of Italy, but sealed a third-place finish after England beat France in Saturday's final game.
Ireland deserved it, but the Scots will have cause for huge regret after falling short in their mission to record a third straight championship win for the first time in 20 years.
The hosts scored 12 points while John Barclay was in the sin-bin in the first half and another seven when Dunbar was yellow-carded in the second.
Ireland, themselves, shipped that Dunbar try after Jonny Sexton became the third man to walk. It was gripping and fractious stuff, from first whistle to last.
Hogg's scintillating try a brief ray of light
Ireland came out of the traps quickly, peppering Scotland with high kicks and taking them apart at the breakdown, an area of significant joy for the Irish and consistent pain for the Scots.
Sexton put Ireland 6-0 ahead inside 13 minutes and they were good value for it. There were brief moments of respite for Vern Cotter's team, but they didn't last. Greig Laidlaw put over a penalty, but Sexton cancelled it out soon after.
Then Hogg scored a mesmerising try - a scintillating break from inside his own half, cutting a gorgeous line between Rory Best and Mike Ross - but normal business resumed thereafter.
Ireland had all the possession, all the territory and all the try threat. They had big carriers in the shape of Stander, in particular, and when they set up camp inside Scotland's 22 and had Barclay binned at another ruinous breakdown, that was the cue for the pivotal period of the game.
The Scots were put under immense pressure on their line in the wake of Barclay's exit, Stander eventually diving up and over the ruck for his second try of this Six Nations. Sexton converted and Ireland's lead was six.
Ireland scored again within three minutes, a passage of play that began with Duncan Weir kicking out on the full from the restart after Stander's try. The nightmarish moment for Scotland came when Sexton put a speculative angled kick into the Ireland 22 and Hogg and Tommy Seymour collided in trying to deal with it.
Earls gobbled up the loose ball to make it 21-10, Laidlaw reducing the deficit to eight with a long-range penalty in the last act of the half.
Irish repel Scots' comeback
The gap did Ireland no favours. It should have been a whole lot higher. And higher it got when Murray drove over for his third try of the championship after another Irish siege of the Scots' line.
Sexton converted to make it 28-13 and at that point it looked like a done deal. Scotland, though, are made of sterner stuff these days. They brought on hooker Stuart McInally for Ross Ford - and McInally was excellent. They sprung Josh Strauss, too. And suddenly Scotland got some ball.
When Gray went through under the sticks just short of the hour, the Aviva Stadium gulped hard. Laidlaw's conversion was good and a game that had looked won was now alive again at 28-20.
Ireland came again, though. The catalyst for the game-clinching moment was a dangerous Dunbar tackle on Sexton, the centre becoming the second player to be sent to the bin.
Just as they had done when Barclay was punished earlier, Ireland made Scotland suffer again. The penalty for the Dunbar tackle on Sexton was put to touch, Ireland launched another big line-out maul and after some heavy grunt, Toner crashed over.
Sexton's conversion put the game away, but still there was a last act of defiance from Dunbar, the final score in a madcap Test.
Ireland: Zebo, Trimble, Payne, Henshaw, Earls, Sexton, Murray; McGrath, Best (capt), Ross, Ryan, Toner, Stander, O'Donnell, Heaslip.
Replacements: Strauss (for Best, 67), Healy (for McGrath, 67), White (for Ross, 63), Dillane (for Ryan, 69), Ruddock (for O'Donnell, 69), Reddan (for Murray, 78), Madigan, McFadden (for Trimble, 78).
Yellow card: Sexton (77)
Scotland: Hogg, Seymour, Taylor, Dunbar, Visser, Weir, Laidlaw (capt); Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Gray, Swinson, Barclay, Hardie, Wilson.
Replacements: McInally (for Ford, 50), Sutherland (for Dickinson, 66), Low (for Nel, 68), Harley (for Swinson, 63), Strauss (for Hardie, 53), Pyrgos, Horne (for Weir, 62), Lamont (for Visser, 69).
Yellow cards: Barclay (24), Dunbar (67)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
|7 (0)||Scrums won (lost)||1 (1)|
|9 (1)||Line-outs won (lost)||8 (0)|
|108 (2)||Rucks/mauls won (lost)||97 (3)|
|29||Kicks from hand||21|
|117 (18)||Tackles made (missed)||123 (12)|