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Ireland's redemption

Latest update : 2008-02-23

After two unconvincing performances, Ireland finally found their way back into the Six Nations championships, beating Scotland 34 - 13 in Croke Park, Dublin.

Geordan Murphy, who was originally dropped for this match, starred as Ireland beat Scotland 34-13 in the Six Nations Championship at Croke Park here Saturday.

Ireland outscored Scotland, for whom this was a third straight defeat after their losses to France and Wales, by five tries to one with the visitors made to pay for not making the most of their early dominance.

One consolation for Scotland was that they did score their first try of this tournament, and only their second in six matches, through Simon Webster.

Scotland dominated possession and territory in the early stages, with second-rows Nathan Hines and Scott MacLeod, making a rare start, stealing plenty of Irish lineout ball.

But they didn't turn their advantage into points with scrum-half Mike Blair, captaining Scotland for the first time in the absence of the injured Jason White, opting to run a kickable seventh minute penalty.

Instead it was Ireland who opened the scoring in the 21st minute.

Murphy, only selected on Friday, after being dropped following the 26-21 defeat away to France in Paris, when Girvan Dempsey was forced out with a hip injury, saw his long-range kick caught by opposing full-back Hugo Southwell only for Scotland's No 15 to step into touch.

Ireland won the resulting lineout through Mick O'Driscoll and the forwards then laid siege to the Scotland line before being awarded a five-metre scrum.

No 8 Jamie Heaslip picked up from the base of the scrum and his clever inside pass released David Wallace, who went over after being missed by Scotland No 8 Kelly Brown for a try under the posts.

Ronan O'Gara converted and Ireland were 7-0 up.

Minutes later Scotland reduced the deficit in familiar fashion when ace goalkicker Chris Paterson, now at outside-half, landed a 40 metre penalty.

But in the 26th minute a flowing back move saw Ireland score their second try. Murphy securely fielded a high kick and counter-attacked. His pass found O'Gara, who in turn released centre Brian O'Driscoll.

The Ireland captain's long cut-out pass took several Scotland players out of the game and left wing Robert Kearney went in at the corner.

Outside-half O'Gara, in his 80th Test, landed the difficult conversion before a Paterson penalty reduced Ireland's lead to 14-6.

But Scotland then almost caught Ireland napping with fit-again right wing Rory Lamont twice held up short of the line by last-ditch defence.

And they missed out on a third chance when French referee Christophe Berdos reversed a close-range penalty after Hines, fortunate not to be yellow-carded, aimed a punch at Ireland flanker Denis Leamy.

Ireland then compounded Scotland's failure to score a try by adding a third of their own in the first minute of the second-half when prop Marcus Horan flopped over the line after catching O'Gara's astute cross-kick.

O'Gara missed the conversion but soon afterwards added a penalty to extend Ireland's lead to 22-6.

Scotland's forwards, however, remained competitive and, off the back of a ruck, the Scots finally ended their try-drought when Andrew Henderson found fellow centre Webster who went in under the posts.

Paterson converted and, at 13-22 down but with more than 20 minutes left, Scotland were still in the game.

Ireland though struck a decisive blow in the 62nd minute when O'Gara's back-of-the-hand pass was taken by an onrushing Trimble. He in turn found recalled wing Tommy Bowe, who was tackled short of the line by Blair, before reaching for the line again.

Berdos handed the decision on to replay official Romain Poite, who decided Bowe had not made an illegal double movement and awarded the try.

O'Gara added the extras and at 29-13 Ireland had a healthy lead.

There was a worrying moment shortly before full-time when Scotland replacement lock Jim Hamilton was carried off on a stretcher.

And there was still time for Ulster's Bowe to seal victory with a second try that was beyond dispute.

Date created : 2008-02-23