Scotland got their first victory of the tournament in Ireland, beating the titleholders 23-20. This second Irish defeat hands France the title before the crunch game against England Saturday evening in Paris.
REUTERS - Australia born fly-half Dan Parks kicked 18 points as Scotland ended Ireland's Triple Crown hopes with a 23-20 Six Nations win here on Saturday.
Scotland's victory on the final day of the tournament was their first in this Six Nations and first in nine Championship meetings against Ireland, who had so wanted to say farewell to Croke Park with a victory.
Their first Six Nations success under coach Andy Robinson also meant Scotland avoided the wooden spoon in a match where Ireland scored two tries, through captain Brian O'Driscoll and wing Tommy Bowe, to one from Scottish No 8 Johnnie Beattie.
Ireland, gunning for a fifth Triple Crown in seven seasons, were 7-17 down early in the second half only to stage a recovery that would have left Scotland fans fearing the worst after last weekend's 15-15 draw with England and their agonising loss to Wales last month.
The hosts squared the game at 17-17 with 16 minutes left when neat play from O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy sent in Bowe for a try.
Replays suggested there may have been some doubt about the grounding but the score stood and replacement fly-half Ronan O'Gara, introduced after starting stand-off Jonathan Sexton had another hit and miss day with his goalkicking, landed the difficult conversion to tie the match.
It was some way for O'Gara to mark his 100th Test appearance (98 for Ireland and two for the British and Irish Lions).
However, with eight minutes left, Ireland went offside some 30 metres out and Parks's sweetly struck penalty nudged Scotland 20-17 in front.
Minutes later though, Scotland infringed at a scrum just outside their 22 and O'Gara squared the match at 20-20 with the ensuing penalty.
But the see-saw finale continued as Rob Kearney was penalised for holding on in the tackle with less than two minutes left on the clock. Parks's swerving penalty from wide on the left ultimately stayed true and Scotland were three points in front.
Scotland had upset the formbook by turning round at half-time 14-7 in front after a first half where both sides opted for an attacking game.
It was Scotland who took the lead in the sixth minute when Parks kicked a simple penalty after Ireland infringed in their 22. But Ireland hit back with the opening try of the match in the 11th minute. Sexton cleverly looped with D'Arcy and then fed to O'Driscoll. Sexton's final, inside, pass looked suspiciously forward but the try stood. Sexton converted and Ireland were 7-3 in front.
Scotland though rallied to score a try just minutes later. Strong driving by forwards Ross Ford and Kelly Brown, as well as centre Graeme Morrison, took Scotland into Irish territory.
That led to a surging Beattie holding off the challenge of Ireland lock Paul O'Connell before he stretched out his arm to ground the ball for a fine try . Parks could not add the difficult conversion but Scotland had regained the lead at 8-7.
Scotland, rucking strongly continued to cause Ireland problems, even disrupting the Irish lineout, after Sexton fell short with a 45 metre penalty attempt.
And twice at the end of the first half they scored points with Parks's penalty followed by a smartly taken 35 metre drop-goal on the stroke of half-time that gave Scotland a seven point cushion.
Sexton, who had been off-target with his goalkicking against both England and Wales, missed a gettable penalty effort early in the second half.
Parks, showing Sexton how it should be done, struck from 40m out to extend the visitors' lead to 17-7.
Ireland though managed to retain possession and a strong driving ruck created another penalty opportunity in the 50th minute.
Sexton held his nerve and landed the penalty but that was his last act of the game as he was then replaced by O'Gara.
Date created : 2010-03-20