Player Ratings: Scottish implosion
OPINION: Scotland were denied a first Triple Crown since 1990 as Ireland continued their quest for a Grand Slam with victory at Murrayfield.
The home side were arguably the better side in the opening 40 minutes and perhaps should have been in front going in at the break.
Scotland were off the pace after the resumption and the game got away from them in the third quarter. Not for the first time this campaign, Gregor Townsend will be disappointed with the impact provided from the bench.
Scotland’s dreams of a first-ever Six Nations success are over for another year. This championship will be another where Scots rue chances missed and opportunities lost.
Scotland are now likely to finish third, even with a bonus-point win over Italy on Super Saturday.
Here’s how the Scottish players rated:
15 Stuart Hogg – 6
Found space at a premium on his 100th cap and was well marshalled by the Irish defence – including a great read by James Lowe. Replaced with a quarter of an hour to go.
14 Kyle Steyn – 5
Limited opportunities in attack and was caught numbers down when James Lowe scored his try.
13 Huw Jones – 6.5
An excellent first half capped with a fine try – his fourth of the championship – but wasn’t able to replicate that after the break.
12 Sione Tuipulotu – 7
A contender for Scotland’s player of the championship. Another brilliant assist – his third in this Six Nations – for Huw Jones’ try and caused Johnny Sexton problems when Scotland decided to go route one in midfield and added his power to the defensive effort.
11 Duhan van der Merwe – 5
A difficult day for the big wing despite his obvious attacking strengths as he was culpable for at least two Irish tries. Tried everything to deny Hansen in the first half, but failed to get off the ground for a high ball in the run-up to Lowe’s try as Mack Hansen soared above him, then Picked the wrong man as Sexton put Conan over.
10 Finn Russell – 6.5
Scotland needed their talisman to be at his very best and produced some magic in the first half to put his colleagues in space. Worryingly limped off late on.
9 Ben White – 6.5
Controlled the game in the first half well, but like the rest of his colleagues, fell away after the break.
1 Pierre Schoeman – 7.5
An ever-willing carrier right into the heart of the Irish defence. When he departed on 54 minutes, he’d made twice as many carries (15) as Scotland’s next-best and finished as Scotland’s top carrier.
2 George Turner – 7
A few lineout issues early doors, including one from which Ireland thought they’d scored but he recovered well and made some thunderous tackles. Should have done better as Scotland attacked with the clock red for half-time.
3 Zander Fagerson – 6.5
While his prop pal was making more ground with the ball in hand, Fagerson put a huge defensive shift in with 11 tackles in his 53 minutes. Felt like he departed too early.
4 Richie Gray – 5
Forced off after just half a dozen minutes on a frustrating afternoon. Put Murray under pressure at the first ruck and made a good carry into the Irish midfield, but picked up a knock and went off shortly after.
5 Jonny Gray – 6
Back in the starting XV after a fine showing off the bench in Paris, the Exeter Chiefs man led Scotland’s first-half tackle count (12).
6 Matt Fagerson – 6
Shifted to the blindside and was industrious but didn’t hit the heights he has this campaign. Some good moments, but a wildly forward pass on 66 minutes – his last act before going off – summed up Scotland’s second half.
7 Jamie Ritchie – 5
Worked hard at the breakdown to slow the visitors down, but didn’t get much joy. A brave call to go to the corner on half-time.
8 Jack Dempsey – 7
A huge handoff on Hansen from the kick-off the tone for a terrific display. Made 60 metres with seven carries in the first half.
16 Fraser Brown – 4
Perhaps lucky to be back in after his lineout wobbles in Paris, and struggled badly in the same area today.
17 Jamie Bhatti – 4
On for Schoeman 53. Conceded a penalty at their first scrum. Doesn’t contribute anything like the same around the field as the man he replaced. Picked off by Lowe as Ireland galloped clear for what should’ve been their bonus point score.
18 Simon Berghan – 5
Preferred to Nel – who is a superior scrummager – and was put under almost constant pressure at the set-piece. Four carries for 23m a decent return.
19 Scott Cummings – 6
Back in the squad and thrust into the action after just half a dozen minutes. Carried strongly in the build-up to Scotland’s opening score. Chipped in with 10 tackles.
20 Hamish Watson – 5
On for the final quarter of an hour but looks off-colour and didn’t impact the game.
21 Ali Price – 5
Another of Scotland’s 2021 Lions who looks a good way short of his best. Didn’t have much impact after coming on.
22 Blair Kinghorn – 5
His most telling contributions were a couple of half-breaks from his own 22.
23 Chris Harris – N/A
Only used for the last play. A strange bench selection in a game that was either going to be tight if Scotland were to win, or would’ve required some magic to change the game.
By Gavin Harper, Rugbypass