Scots battle to victory
Published 24/02/2013 | 16:06
Scotland produced an incredible defensive display to beat Ireland 12-8 and break their Irish Murrayfield hoodoo.
Declan Kidney's men had not lost in Edinburgh since 2001 and looked set to extend that record as they dominated the first half, with possession statistics nearing 80%.
But after 55 minutes they had just a Paddy Jackson penalty and Craig Gilroy's unconverted try to show for their dominance. That allowed Edinburgh scrum-half Greig Laidlaw to kick his side back into contention and ultimately onto success with four perfect penalties.
Referee Wayne Barnes was heavily involved in a opening that burst into life when Luke Marshall powered between two weak tackles before sending a long pass to left wing Keith Earls. Earls was held up just short of the line and then Brian O'Driscoll was kept out in virtually the same spot.
Finally Ireland, who had dominated the preceding 35 minutes, were off the mark courtesy of a Jackson penalty that came after the Scottish line had been vigorously tested.
The try the Irish desperately needed arrived through Gilroy three minutes after the break with the strength of Sean O'Brien cracking the Scottish defence to start the move. Full-back Rob Kearney was heavily involved before the ball was slipped to Gilroy on the blindside and the Ulster wing span before touching down.
Jackson missed the conversion and then a penalty, contrasting with Laidlaw who slotted three points from in front of the posts.
Scotland were playing with far greater conviction and urgency, with Sean Maitland almost wriggling through, and when Ireland's scrum crumbled Laidlaw landed a second penalty.
The momentum of the game had shifted completely and suddenly it was Scotland who were in control, a fact rewarded when Laidlaw nudged them ahead for the time as the final 15 minutes beckoned.
Substitute David Kilcoyne conceded a penalty and Laidlaw obliged, and a grandstand finish was set up when the Scots infringed in front of the posts and Ronan O'Gara kicked for the corner. The stage was set for Ireland to snatch victory, but O'Driscoll ran into his own player and Scotland were awarded a five-metre scrum.