Adam Griggs had the look of a relieved man as the Ireland Women held on by the skin of their teeth to start the Six Nations with a victory at Energia Park yesterday.
"The first 20-25 minutes we were really sharp. Everything that we'd practised was starting to come off. That is the potential that the group has," he said.
From the moment hooker Cliodhna Moloney seized on a turnover at the breakdown, Ireland took the ball and just didn't give it back to Scotland.
The continuity was on point, Anna Caplice straightening onto the ball at speed, Kathryn Dane whipping the attack right, Lindsay Peat providing the subtle hands and Lauren Delany going close. Referee Aurelie Griozeleau called back play for Ellen Murphy to post a penalty in the fifth minute.
So often a carrier, Sene Naoupu's right-to-left skip pass then put Beibhinn Parsons into space, Ireland sweeping back right for Caplice to put Moloney on the ball and the hooker steamed to the corner on eight minutes.
The conspicuous Moloney was prominent in the build-up to the second try too, Murphy making a good decision to hold onto the ball, captain Ciara Griffin making a burst and Naoupu finishing emphatically on the right for 13-0 in the 16th minute.
Ireland were on easy street, already thinking of the bonus point. Somehow, some way, it all drifted away from them as their mistakes allowed Scotland to gain a foothold, their centre Lisa Thomson bursting over for out-half Helen Nelson to convert for 13-7 at the break.
"We gave away a lot of penalties. Our discipline really hurt us," said Ireland coach Griggs. "Certainly, it gave them the piggy-back to work up the field, score that try before half-time. It definitely woke us up. At the same time, you don't want to be giving away points to be woken up."
It didn't help that captain Ciara Griffin didn't come out for the second period due to a stomach bug she had been fighting coming into the game and she was joined on the sideline by another leader in Moloney, failing to return from a Head Injury Assessment.
The lack of those two leadership voices was part of the reason Ireland were unable to hold firm, despite a promising debut from Dorothy Wall, the Scotland forwards turning the screw in the set-piece.
Then, Hannah Smith, Jade Konkel and captain Rachel Malcolm all broke free to go within a final pass of another try in what was fast becoming an even contest. Scotland threatened through the passing of Thomson and the running of Chloe Rollie, Rhona Lloyd and replacement Sarah Law.
It required a hand-in by Murphy to stifle the visitors, although Law promptly forced a penalty to increase the pressure.
Bodies were put on the line to prevent the breakthrough, Smith and Thomson going so close before Beibhinn Parsons jumped out of the line to intercept Law and travel the length of the pitch for a real 10-pointer swing for 18-7 in the 67th minute.
Those hard-running centres Smith and Thomson soon hurt Ireland again up the middle and Leah Lyons was binned for a high tackle.
The weight of pressure told when lock Emma Wassell plunged for the line, Law converting for a one-score game.
It went right down to the last play when Linda Djougang pinched a turnover to give Ireland a winning start to the campaign.
"The Scots, the way they play, they're driven on that physicality. Once they got a sniff, they put us under a lot of pressure," reflected Griggs.
It took the Ireland coach back to November when they lost out to a last-minute try to Wales. "It could have had a deja-vu moment. But, for our 'D' held firm, forced a turnover and got rid of it; it shows the character. It shouldn't have been that close. But, sometimes getting out of a situation like that is actually better for you to move forward."
Ireland - L Delany; A Doyle, S Naoupu, M Claffey, B Parsons; E Murphy (C Keohane 67) K Dane (N Cronin 59); L Peat (L Feely 60), C Moloney (V Dabanovich-O'Mahony 26), L Djougang (L Lyons 54), A McDermott (C Cooney 67), N Fryday, C Griffin (capt, D Wall h-t), E McMahon (L Djougang 74)), A Caplice.
Scotland - C Rollie; R Lloyd, H Smith, L Thomson, M Gaffney (E Tonkin 72); H Nelson (S Law 50), M McDonald; L Bartlett (L Cockburn 62), L Skeldon, M Forsyth, E Wassell, S Bonar, R Malcolm (capt, L McMillan), R McLachlan (S Cattigan 59), J Konkel (M Wright 76).
Ref - A Groizeleau (France)