Joe Schmidt’s Ireland delivered a fantastic performance at Aviva Stadium on Saturday to see off the challenge of an enterprising Scotland side who were unfortunate not to register more points.
As is common in Rugby’s Greatest Championship the first 20 minutes of the clash was ferociously contested and only saw one score as Greig Laidlaw sent a kick over from out wide. With the teams evenly-matched, young Ireland winger Jacob Stockdale took it upon himself to create a moment of magic, gambling on an intercept from Scottish centre Peter Horne.
The 21-year-old performed the same trick to help down Wales last week and the Scotland defence was similarly unable to catch him once the intercept was made. But at 7-3 down and conforming to their swashbuckling style, Scotland came out fighting with centre Huw Jones chipping down the left and making it to the Irish 22, where his pass cruelly evaded the hands of teammate Stuart Hogg.
With the clock in the red Stockdale came again, taking his tally in the Championship to six with a lovely step inside opposite man Blair Kinghorn.
In the second half the home side turned their screw and got their reward just six minutes in, when scrum-half Conor Murray spotted an opportunity and powered through the tackles of Russell and Hamish Watson – assisted by Bundee Aki. The crowd sensed a Scotland fightback would come and so it transpired, as a penalty led to an attacking scrum and the ball found its way to 6ft 5in Kinghorn, who finished superbly in the corner.
Looking for the crucial bonus-point try, Jonathan Sexton kicked to the corner and the Irish pack gathered the ball from the resultant lineout.
Driving towards the line, replacement hooker Sean Cronin saw his opportunity beckoning and dived for the line, touching the ball down and sending the Dublin crowd into raptures.