Ireland bounced back from opening day defeat to secure an impressive 22-13 victory over Scotland on Saturday.
Shocked on home soil against England in Dublin last time around, the Guinness Six Nations champions showed their class at BT Murrayfield to run in three tries in a dominant performance that reaffirmed their title credentials.
Conor Murray, Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls all dotted down for Joe Schmidt’s side, who were also indebted to towering displays from the likes of Quinn Roux and Rob Kearney.
On their first starts in this year’s Championship, Roux and Kearney stood out statistically on a good day at the office for Ireland.
Ruck star Roux stakes claim on Guinness Six Nations debut
Replacing the injured Leinster stalwart Devin Toner was never going to be easy for Ireland – particulary in the cauldron that is BT Murrayfield – but on his Guinness Six Nations bow, Quinn Roux more than delivered.
Omnipresent at the breakdown, the Connacht lock arrived at 54 rucks and made 25 clearouts – topping the charts in both areas according to AWS analytics.
And with Roux also completing a staggering 100 percent of his tackles as well as playing a pivotal role in the lineout, head coach Schmidt reserved special praise for the 28-year-old’s growing maturity after the win.
“There are a lot of guys on their way back, and a lot of guys changing and coming in,” he said. “Quinn Roux stepped in and called the lineout with 100 percent accuracy.
“Quinn was unlucky not to get in the squad initially and then he is out there calling the lineout, it is a big transformation.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 9, 2019
Returning Kearney underlines importance to Ireland
Roux’s impact on the game was mirrored by another returnee in Rob Kearney, who reminded fans of his enduring quality from full-back.
Absent against England in Dublin, the Leinster back showed no sign of rust as he thrived both in attack and defence.
Kearney was second on the pitch for metres made with 102, and also chalked up three line breaks during a vintage performance.
It was a display that highlighted the 32-year-old importance to his country’s fortunes.
Now Schmidt will hope the full-back’s injury troubles are behind him once and for all.
📺 | #SCOvIRE highlights
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 9, 2019
Kinghorn bounces back to continue impressive start
A hat-trick hero last time around, Scotland’s Blair Kinghorn had been the name on everyone’s lips over the past week.
But with British & Irish Lions winger Sean Maitland back in the fold, the unlucky Kinghorn was forced for a place on the bench against Ireland.
The response to such disappointment, particularly from a statistical perspective, was impressive.
Introduced as a 16th-minute substitute following injury to Stuart Hogg, the Edinburgh man still managed to make 150 metres with ball in hand – the most of any player on the pitch.
A direct runner also adept at finding weaknesses in the opposition line, Kinghorn has made a particularly impressive start to his Guinness Six Nations career.
Whether as a starter or an impact replacement, the youngster is showing that he can add a further dimension to Scotland’s attacking arsenal.