Player Ratings: All bark and no bite
OPINION: This was a battle of two teams very much on different sides of the Six Nations tracks.
Ireland, despite a loss to France in Paris, were riding the crest of a Six Nations wave, with a potential championship still on the line.
Scotland on the other hand had fallen off the metaphorical wagon. After the euphoria of a victory over England in Murrayfield, they have been soundly beaten by both Wales and a dominant France, with just a single error-strewn victory over Italy to show since the accolades of their Round One win over the might of Eddie Jones’ men.
To make matters worse, it emerged this week that six players had to be internally disciplined following a boozy night out in Edinburgh in which they breached team protocols.
Ian Cameron rates the Scottish players:
15. Stuart Hogg – 4.5
Held his nerve to deal with a Jamison Gibson-Park kick behind in the 12th minute. His 7.5/10 first-half performance was in stark contrast to a selfishly butchered a 3-on-1 just after halftime. Typical of the game-breaking blunder that has littered his Test career. Frustrating.
14. Darcy Graham – 7.5
A brilliant start for Graham who made a 30 metre break up the pitch in the opening minutes, clearly thriving with the break-neck pace of the game. Irish pressure started to tell though and Graham wasn’t immune. Always looked threatening.
13. Chris Harris – 7.5
Scotland clearly came to play and no one exemplified that attitude more than Harris, who was running and gunning early doors in Dublin. Great energy from the Lion.
12. Sam Johnson – 5.5
A couple of handling errors early but gave his usual workmanlike shift after that. Townsend clearly loves his defensive solidity and no-nonsense attacking game, even if the creativity isn’t quite there.
11. Kyle Steyn – 6
Gave away a coach killer penalty when engaging Mack Hansen early off a kick chase. Had a busy afternoon, but handled most tasks well.
10. Blair Kinghorn – 6
After recovering well from a wobbly early pass – the 6’5 flyhalf took the ball to the line well and distributing competently. Scuffed his only attempt at goal in the first half. A valuable experience for the would-be playmaker.
9. Ali Price – 5.5
Another one of the Scotland six who needed to a big game after getting ‘disciplined’ during the week. Was a mixed bag for Price, with uncharacteristic inaccuracies coughing up cheap ball for the Irish. His worst game of the tournament.
1. Pierre Schoeman – 8.5
Created carnage in the Irish defence as a ball-carrier and matched Tadhg Furlong at scrum time. Scored a contentious try and managed to survive a TMO review on a trademark charge. You can’t ask more of a prop.
2. George Turner – 5.5
Outshone by the rampaging Dan Sheehan, Turner had a solid if somewhat anonymous shift before being replaced by Fraser Brown.
3. Zander Fagerson – 6.5
Carried effectively around the ruck but struggled to hold Healy in the initial setpieces. Coughed up a few easy turnovers but his counter rucking caused problems for the Irish.
4. Jonny Gray – 5.5
An awkward collision with Graham wasn’t the best start for the returning lock. Looked a tad off Test match pace, which was understandable. Better in the second half but his decision to cover Gibson-Park opened the door for Josh van der Flier to score a crucial five-pointer.
5. Grant Gilchrist – 6
Another Scottish forward stricken by a severe case of butterfingers. The big man stayed in the fight though, with an important turnover just before halftime sticking out.
6. Rory Darge – 7
Carried well when he had occasion to get on the ball and scrambled well in defence. The find of the campaign for Gregor Townsend.
7. Hamish Watson – 6
This wasn’t vintage Hamish Watson. One of a number of Scotland’s pack who struggled to contain Ireland’s brutish tight game, which looked to go directly through the men in blue.
8. Matt Fagerson – 7
Lots of industry from Fagerson, who grew into the game and was a key figure in frustrating Ireland’s attack and delivering gainline for his own side.
16. Fraser Brown – 6
Side stepped by Sheehan but gave a decent account of himself after that.
17. Allan Dell – NA
Not on long enough to rate.
18. WP Nel – 4
His first act was to concede a scrum penalty. Gave another penalty after not listening to Barnes’ instructions on latching.
19. Sam Skinner – 6
Did his job after coming on for Gilchrist, a period in which Ireland made less gains through the middle.
20. Josh Bayliss – 6
Other than a bit of biff didn’t make much of an impact.
21. Ben White – 6
A decent service after coming on for Price.
22. Finn Russell – 7.5
Why didn’t Townsend bring him on the 60th minute when Scotland needed a different look? Had to wait another six minutes for Finn to start doing his thing. Whatever about his off-field dramas, Scotland had way more bite with the Racing 92 man in the pitch.
23. Mark Bennett – 4.5
Got monstered man and ball by Mack Hansen. Got stripped a few minutes later too. Not his day.
By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass