Nerves of steel have always part of Johnny Sexton’s make up and the Irish captain brought them to the party when it came to beating Scotland in the Six Nations with his penalty three minutes from the end.
I stuck with my process, and didn’t let the fact that it was at the end of the game affect me. There was a swirling wind and it was hard kicking out there, but I just hit it at the left post. I looked and let the ball drift inside it.
“A lot of what went on in the second half wasn’t acceptable. The two tries Scotland got should not be conceded in international rugby, but we showed top-notch character to come back and get ourselves in a position to win it at the end.”
Ireland are now second in the Six Nations table, even if France v Scotland has still to be played. But Sexton took the positives. “We know we can’t win the Six Nations now, but finishing second when it is all done and dusted wouldn’t be a bad thing considering we lost our first tow matches.
“But we’ve England at home on Saturday,” Sexton added, “and that is going to be a huge game and we’ll prepare for it well. Even at my age, I’m always learning about rugby and I’m enjoying working with the coaches and seeing where we can take our game.”
For man of the match Tadhg Beirne, the overwhelming emotion was relief at finally bagging the win.
“Look, it was going well at 24-10 and then Scotland came back into it, as they always do, and we had to go after the win again.
Johnny (Sexton) is some man. I knew he’d point to the posts as soon as we got that penalty. I was sitting in the stand by then, but I still knew. We’d always back him and he delivers.”
Irish coach Andy Farrell said he was relieved and very proud of the win. “When you give up a 14-point lead in international rugby, you need to show character and we did and we came down and kept our composure, put pressure on Scotland in the right place, and got the win.
“Some of the things we did were not right. Straight from getting the try that put us 24-10 ahead we didn’t handle their kick-off properly and that let Scotland directly back into the match. The little things matter.
“But look,” Farrell insisted, “it was a strange match, and some lads hung in there at the end when they were feeling it with injuries and knocks. We made some big, big tackles in the last two minutes when Scotland were trying to come at us.”