Monday 19 February 2018

Triple Crown dream dies

Kelly Brown and Graeme Morrison of Scotland celebrate victory at the close of the match
Kelly Brown and Graeme Morrison of Scotland celebrate victory at the close of the match


Ireland saw their dream of a fifth Triple Crown in seven years dashed following a woeful performance which saw them slump to a 23-20 defeat to Scotland.

The occasion had been set. With the Championship beyond them, Ireland were hoping at least to win some silverware and end their stint at GAA HQ with a win.

But in truth, for large parts of the match Ireland were simply dreadful, error-strewn and sloppy. In front of a muted capacity 83,000 crowd, Ireland stuttered and stammered their way and allowed Scotland grab hold of the match.

It was only when Tommy Bowe did brilliantly to cross the line on 64 minutes did Ireland look like winning the match. Ronan O'Gara, eager to prove a point, slotted over the conversion to make it 17-17.

Jonny Sexton was found wanting again and Ireland's normally immense lineout was shockingly poor. The young Leinster number 10 endured a nightmare and his misfortune was compounded 10 minutes into the second half when he was forced to take a penalty with O'Gara primed to replace him.

While he managed to squeeze it over, his confidence was gone as he sheepishly exited the field. After a woeful first half, Ireland, overly casual, found themselves 14-7 down at the break.

Despite his poor game overall, Sexton's role in captain Brian O'Driscoll's sublime try was crucial.

That was the only positive for Ireland. Our normally solid lineout was broken more than once and the hand-passing at times was atrocious, and Scotland bravely forced us on to the back foot and got their reward time and time again.

Sunday Independent

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