Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

The Grand Slam is on as Ireland defeat Scotland in exciting showdown

The Grand Slam is on as Ireland defeat Scotland in exciting showdown

On three occasions in that first half Ireland tried to exit and managed to find touch but Scotland took quick throws and relaunched another wave of attacks.

Yes, an off-load from a lock to a prop is still an off-load.

When Wales coach Warren Gatland last named an experimental side, it almost resulted in a shock defeat by second-tier Georgia before his new-look team hung on for a 13-6 home win in November.

England surrendered the crown they have held for the past two years with a second successive defeat, a fortnight after falling to Scotland.

"But we know that the biggest challenge is ahead, still".

In light of all this, it was interesting to see that it was only Best and his Ireland side at the Aviva Stadium yesterday, with Scotland undergoing their usual captain's run back in Edinburgh before making their way to Dublin.

"Around those times, Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara - they'd been trying to achieve that for 10 years".

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"I think Rory [Best] is desperate for Grand Slam because he feels he would be a bigger part of it now than he played back then [when Best understudied for Jerry Flannery in four of the five matches]".

Asked if it felt like a special achievement, Schmidt said: "From a wider squad perspective it is, because Josh van der Flier will be delighted, and the players have worked hard to get a medal for Josh".

However, it gets even sweeter.

Ireland may have some variety in most parts of the field, but in the 22, you know exactly what's coming from them, agreed Taylor.

With a championship in sight and several years' experience of challenging at the business end of the competition, the Irish pulled away to a 20-point victory which ended any hopes of a Scottish title charge.

"It's entirely up to them", said Best.

Pressure on the half-backs will be key, but despite some in the Irish media refloating the idea that the Scots might illegally target Murray, Taylor's having none of it. "They caught us at the start of the game and they caught us when we took the lead again".

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But Scotland didn't think it was over.

"We're really excited to have Wayne because we had him when we played Australia in Sydney", added Taylor. "If the game continues to be refereed like this, the World Cup is going to be very contestable at the breakdown. Ireland have some good guys in this area too".

Ireland punted an eminently kickable penalty to the corner, only to come away with no reward for that early enterprise.

"While we're all disappointed, we're all gutted, we've got to make sure we learn from it and make sure we're stronger next time we play", Jones told the BBC.

Sexton's conversion opened up a 7-3 lead after 24 minutes but Scotland should have been back in front soon after when Huw Jones fluffed his lines by misplacing a pass to Stuart Hogg with the full-back virtually guaranteed to touch down if the delivery was better.

England did come close to stealing a win after May scored a late try and they came within metres of the French line in the final minutes but while Jones could not fault the effort, his team were not at the races.

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