15 - 22
(Half Time 12 - 9)
Sat 14th Mar 09, 17:00
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Chris Paterson & Jamie Heaslip
14 March 2009, 6:49 pm
Heaslip and Stringer inspire Ireland
Ireland will march on Cardiff with the RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam in their sights after pounding Scotland into submission 22-15 at Murrayfield.
The Irish sprang into life in a dominant second half that saw Jamie Heaslip power over for a try created by a moment of brilliance from Peter Stringer.
Heaslip's score showed the wisdom of his recall, with the Leinster number eight making a barnstorming appearance from the bench, clearly playing with a point to prove.
And it was also a sweet moment for Stringer, the veteran scrum-half and man of the match, who celebrated his recall with a lively display topped by his game-turning break.
Ireland's supremacy after the interval will have sent a shudder through Wales as the RBS 6 Nations rivals prepare to meet in a likely title decider at the Millennium Stadium next Saturday.
Ireland may possess several gamebreakers behind the scrum, but it was the forwards who broke Scotland's resistance with an attritional display that had Munster's stamp all over it.
The only complaint was the scoreboard failed to mirror their superiority, although this was no reflection on Ronan O'Gara who enjoyed his best match of the tournament.
In the process he became the highest points scorer in championship history, eclipsing the 479 mark established by Jonny Wilkinson with four penalties, one conversion and a drop-goal.
O'Gara's opposite number Chris Paterson preserved his flawless record in this year's RBS 6 Nations with five from five, keeping the Scots in touch.
The encounter was rarely easy on the eye with the scarcity of try-scoring opportunities making the contribution of the kickers all the more important.
Paterson did the initial damage, ensuring Scotland finished a dominant opening five minutes, which saw winger Simon Danielli threaten in the right corner, with a penalty.
Seeking to ratchet-up the pressure, they instead conceded a turnover and then watched in frustration as skipper Mike Blair sent a penalty dead in the in-goal area.
O'Gara punished an infringement with a simple three points but Ireland's defence was once being tested by Scotland's forwards close to the breakdown.
Struggling to contain the home side, they conceded a second penalty to the boot of Paterson before seeing an attack foiled by another unforced error.
Ireland continued to fall foul of Jonathan Kaplan's whistle as Scotland pressed, with Paterson nudging the hosts 9-3 ahead after the official had spotted some over-zealous rucking from Brian O'Driscoll.
O'Gara responded in kind as the Irish put together their most impressive passage of play, stretching Scotland out wide and then hurting them through the middle.
With Kaplan showing no leniency, Paterson and O'Gara exchanged penalties once again and just as the match was descending into a tedious string of offences it burst into life.
Scotland capitalised on an overlap to send Thom Evans screaming into space and only a last-ditch tackle from Tommy Bowe prevented him from going over with Phil Godman also denied in the nick of time.
Apart from comical errors by Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe, Ireland made a stirring start to the second half as they successfully probed for openings.
The Scots were being run ragged with winger Bowe and substitute Heaslip punching big holes in their defence, which eventually cracked in the 51st minute.
A huge gap opened up for Stringer at the base of a line-out and the alert Munster veteran needed no second invitation.
Racing free on the diagonal, he turned Paterson inside out before picking out Heaslip on his shoulder and the Leinster back row stormed over.
O'Gara slotted the conversion and then landed a drop goal to send Ireland 19-12 ahead, but Paterson's incredible accuracy reduced the deficit once again.
The Irish had a stranglehold on the last quarter, refusing to let Scotland break from their half to move within one win of the Grand Slam.