Friday 25 May 2018

Barclay: 'They had a few chances and took all of them'

Ireland 28 Scotland 8

Garry Ringrose of Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Garry Ringrose of Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

This was a lesson in finishing. Scotland's play-makers created some stand-out moments that should have led to tries, but couldn't finish their dinner.

Ireland were far more ruthless in taking their chances to take a close contest and make it a four-try-to-one hammering.

Jacob Stockdale of Ireland scores his side's second try during the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Jacob Stockdale of Ireland scores his side's second try during the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rarely has a scoreline been such a poor reflection of what went on out on the pitch. The visitors must have been slightly shell-shocked when, after 46 minutes, they found themselves down and out despite their best efforts.

They caused Ireland more breakdown problems than anyone has for a year and cut holes in Andy Farrell's defence with worrying frequency.

But they were careless when the line beckoned, their option-taking was atrocious and their execution off. Away from home, they remain a shadow of the increasingly impressive team they've become in Murrayfield.

They will improve and the 2019 World Cup meeting between the sides will be an epic, but for now Ireland's focus shifts to Twickenham.

Jacob Stockdale of Ireland celebrates with Conor Murray, 9, and Dan Leavy, 7, after scoring his side's second try. Photo: Sportsfile
Jacob Stockdale of Ireland celebrates with Conor Murray, 9, and Dan Leavy, 7, after scoring his side's second try. Photo: Sportsfile

Schmidt will limit training to conserve energy, but there'll be plenty of material for the video review sessions from this win - good and bad.

Garry Ringrose's presence in the Irish midfield was a game-changer.

Chris Farrell may have won man of the match against Wales and would surely have kept the shirt had he not done his cruciate in training, but the deft hands and dancing feet of the Leinster centre represent an upgrade on the hard-carrying Munster man.

In defence, the 23-year-old was largely solid and made good decisions, but it was in attack where he made his mark - offering himself as the kind of playmaking alternative to Johnny Sexton the team has been crying out for.

His role in Jacob Stockdale's all-important second try on the stroke of half-time was superb.

Having made the initial break to put his team in position, Ringrose then worked a superb wrap-around on Bundee Aki to release the coltish Ulster winger.

Stockdale can't stop scoring and his knack for intercepting passes has come in very handy in this tournament.

At 21, he is already on the verge of breaking into the top 20 all-time Irish try scorers and his brace puts him in elevated company with Englishman Cyril Lowe as the only player to score multiple tries in three successive games in the 137-year history of the tournament.

Lowe's achievement stood alone for 104 years, now he has company.

Stockdale's nose for the try-line has been a key factor in Ireland's success this season and his first try, picking off Peter Horne's ill-advised pass, was a big moment in a game that appeared to be getting away from Ireland who were struggling at the ruck and in containing the visitors' wide game.

Scotland's profligacy was the reason they weren't further than 3-0 down, whereas Ireland's clinical nature came to the fore as they punished Gregor Townsend's men.

With Johnny Sexton below his best but still giving everything, the Irish looked laboured at times but Rob Kearney's aerial prowess and strong running were a factor in balancing things out and Ringrose's clever attacking got its reward.

Stockdale struck just before half-time, Conor Murray added a third just after the restart and while Blair Kinghorn managed a consolation score for the Scots, the bonus point was secured by Seán Cronin who crawled his way over the line from the back of a dominant maul.

"I don't want to say that we got what we deserved," Scotland captain John Barclay said after a frustrating day at the office.

"The scoreline didn't show the competition in the game

"They had a few chances and they took all of them We had four clear chances and took one, so those are the small margins you deal with.

"They're a very good team. A fantastic team. You have to take your chances, especially against a side as good as theirs."

Once they've licked their wounds, England will have a good, long look at where the Scots found gaps and look to replicate their success.

Ireland's wide defence remains a concern and, like Scotland, the outgoing champions have good passers who have speed-merchants on the wings.

As they go back on the road, Ireland have plenty to work on but the fundamentals of their game are sound.

If they continue to ruthlessly convert their opportunities, history beckons.

Ireland - R Kearney (J Larmour 75); K Earls, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton (J Carbery 73), C Murray (K Marmion 71); C Healy (J McGrath 51), R Best (capt) (S Cronin 66), T Furlong (A Porter 62); J Ryan, D Toner (I Henderson 55); P O'Mahony (J Murphy 55), D Leavy, CJ Stander.

Scotland - S Hogg; B Kinghorn (L Jones 29-37), H Jones, P Horne (N Grigg 73), S Maitland; F Russell, G Laidlaw (A Price 67); G Reid (J Bhatti 55), S McInally (F Brown 60), S Berghan (WP Nel 55); G Gilchrist, J Gray (T Swinson 71); J Barclay (capt), H Watson, R Wilson (D Denton 18).

Ref - W Barnes (England)

Irish Independent

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