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Ireland retain their crown

MATCH REPORT: Ireland retained their Six Nations crown, but not before they were given a massive scare by Scotland in Dublin on Saturday.

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Ireland’s 17-13 win at Lansdowne Road required 80 gruelling minutes of hard work in a brutal contest between the two Celtic rivals.

In the end, the Andrew Porter try in the 64th minute sealed the win and the Six Nations win.

Tries by Dan Sheehan and Andrew Porter got the Irish over the line as the hosts were thwarted time and again by a magnificent Scottish defence.

The title – in winning two in a row they emulate Joe Schmidt’s Ireland side of 2014/15 – is some consolation for missing out on historic Six Nations Grand Slams after being beaten by England last weekend.

Peter O’Mahony has yet to discuss whether he remains captain and the 34-year-old veteran was in tears at the national anthems, receiving a sympathetic pat on the head from Munster teammate Tadhg Beirne.

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The Scots opened the scoring in the eighth minute, Finn Russell slotting over a penalty to bring up a half-century of points in this campaign after James Lowe had been penalised.

However, the Scots gave away a soft try as hooker George Turner overthrew and it was picked off by Dan Sheehan who had the simplest of tasks to touch down – his fifth try of the tournament.

Jack Crowley converted from wide out on the right for 7-3.

Ireland’s ill-discipline has been a glaring weakness in the championship and Russell landed a second penalty due to another Irish infringement in the 18th minute.

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Neither side could impose themselves on the game as defences held firm with the Irish resorting to a long-range penalty attempt, instead of kicking to the corner, to try and get some breathing space.

However, Crowley dragged his effort wide and the clock wound down to leave the match very much in the balance at the end of a scrappy first half.

The Irish, though, started the second period in lively fashion and Crowley landed a penalty after some excellent attacking play.

Russell’s ability to make schoolboy errors then handed the Irish the initiative as he put the ball out direct from the kick-off.

The Irish turned on the pressure as the Scots defence wilted but Tadhg Furlong was denied a try as he was judged to have knocked on as he went to touch the ball down.

The Irish pressed but Calvin Nash was guilty of failing to pass as he closed on the line and the outstanding Scottish flank Andy Christie forced a turnover.

The Scottish defence was magnificent as the Irish camped on their line and although they conceded penalties somehow they kept the hosts out.

They also managed to force errors with the normally reliable Garry Ringrose, making his first appearance of the tournament, showing his rustiness as he knocked on with the line beckoning.

Ringrose, though, redeemed himself with a superb solo run down the wing which gave the Irish great position but again they were denied a try as Robbie Henshaw was held up.

However, referee Matthew Carley had lost patience with the Scots conceding penalties and sin-binned Ewan Ashman whilst awarding the Irish another penalty.

This time with a man advantage the hosts made no mistake as Andrew Porter went over and Crowley converted to stretch Ireland’s lead to 17-6.

The Scots hit straight back after Harry Byrne was sin-binned, Huw Jones breaking through and touching down under the posts.

The Irish managed to see out the final minutes of the game, allowing their signature tune Zombie by The Cranberries be played at full volume once Carley blew the final whistle.

The scorers

For Ireland
Tries: Sheehan, Porter
Cons: Crowley 2
Pen: Crowley

For Scotland
Try: Jones
Con: Russell
Pens: Russell 2

Yellow card: Ewan Ashman (Scotland, 64 – repeated infringement, offside), Harry Byrne (Ireland, 76 – foul play, head-to-head contact)

Teams:

Ireland: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Garry Ringrose.

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (co-captain), 9 Ben White, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge (co-captain), 6 Andy Christie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 George Horne, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Kyle Rowe.

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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