Six Nations round five: Ireland v Scotland live blog …

Two Finn Russell penalties keep Scotland in touch, but a Dan Sheehan try gives host a single point edge at the break

Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony lifts the Six Nations trophy. Image: © Craig Watson -
Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony lifts the Six Nations trophy. Image: © Craig Watson -

That’s it folks. Thank you for reading The Offside Line’s live blog. Please feel free to keep adding your comments here – and please keep up to date with all the important and most up tp date Scottish rugby news at

Saturday 10.12pm:

What do you make of Iain Morrison‘s Scotland player ratings?

Six Nations: Ireland v Scotland: Scotland player ratings

Saturday 9.52pm:

France have dramatically beaten England 33-31 thanks to a last minute Thomas Ramos penalty at the end of a pulsating contest in Lyon. But two bonus-points for the losing time means they finish third in the table – behind champions Ireland and France – leaving Scotland fourth.

There’s no getting away from this being a deeply disappointing outcome for Scotland from a Six Nations which surely offered the best opportunity in at least a generation to really challenge for the title on the last day … even if beating title-chasing Ireland in Dublin on St Patrick’s weekend was a wild long shot.

Saturday 9.44pm:

Is this the end of Peter O’Mahony? His tears during the anthem and the emotional aftermath certainly points that way.

“I don’t know [if this was my last game], I’ve a few chats to have with family and stuff over the next couple of weeks. If it was my last one, it’s not a bad one to go on,” he said afterwards.

“It’s certainly been one of the tougher weeks of my career, for lots of different reasons. We weren’t happy with the performance last week [in the match against England] and thankfully today we went out and did it against a seriously good Scottish side. I thought we showed ambition with the ball … I thought we played some good rugby.”

Saturday 9.16pm:

Scotland stand-off and co-captain says he’s proud of the resilience his team showed in this match, but acknowledges that there is still some way to groin terms of developing the team’s mental toughness.

Six Nations: Ireland v Scotland reaction: Finn Russell calls for improved mental toughness

Saturday 7.02pm:

An update from Our Voice in the Crowd: “Well done Ireland, Scotland were resilient and on another day could have got the win but great game to watch.”

Full-time: Ireland 17 Scotland 13

Ireland are Six Nations champions. ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries reverberates around the Aviva. The guy behind me is perhaps the worst singer I’ve ever encountered, but I salute his passion.

Looks like Scotland can still finish third, if my maths is right?! That late try from Jones may be more than just a consolation!

77 mins:

Try and conversion!

Ireland 17 Scotlnd 13

Huw Jones jinks past two tacklers then rounds the last man to score a consolation try, with Russell converting.

75 mins:

Harry Byrne sent to the sib-bin and is refereed to the bunker following an upright challenge on Russell which led to head-on-head contact.

75 mins:

Ashman back from the sin-bin.

Both teams are prodding away at each other without really threatening to throw a counting punch.

64 mins:


Ireland 17 Scotland 6

Ireland take the quick tap and Andrew Porter bundles over. Crowley converts.

64 mins:

Ireland sub: Jack Conan for O’Mahony.

64 mins:


Ireland keep the pressure on, and it looks like the dam has finally burst when Robbie Henshaw muscles over – but referee Carley goes to the TMO again, and Redpath has done unbelievably well top get his arm between the ball and the grounding.

No try, but Ireland get penalty for offences during the build-up to that non-score, with a yellow card for Ashman as the fall guy for his team’s persistent offences.

62 mins:

Van der Merwe has to look lively to get back and stop Ringrose following a 40-yard break up the right touchline.

61 mins:

Scotland subs: Matt Fagerson for Rory Darge, George Horne for White, Cam Redpath for McDowall.

59 mins:

Another Ireland chance goes begging when Ringrose can’t hold onto the pass with the line pretty much at his mercy.

Scotland’s defence has been heroic!

56 mins:

Scotland keep making life hard for themselves. A loose ball bounced forward of Gilchrist’s shins and Fagerson picks up, to give away an offside penalty which allows Ireland to kick from halfway right back into the corner.

56 mins:

Another Ireland swap: Garry Ringrose for Calvin Nash.

55 mins:

Ireland subs: Ronan Kelleher for Sheehan and Ryan Baird for Joe McCarthy.

53 mins:

A desperate rearguard effort shuts out a side-stepping Calvin Nash, but the momentum is with Ireland.

51 mins:

Furling is replaced after treatment on the pitch by Finlay Bealham.

49 mins:

Jack Dempsey breaks into Ireland 22 but sloppy offload load goes straight to Jamison Gibson-Park.

48 mins:

Double substitution for Scotland. Rory Sutherland for Shoeman and Ewan Ashman for Turner.

No try!

Ireland 10 Scotland 6

TMO has been called in. Did Furling drop the ball in the act of scoring?

The Aviva crowd think the prop got it down … but they would, wouldn’t they?!

47  mins:


Ireland 15 Scotland 6

Ireland have moved up a gear, and the inevitable try comes when desperate Scotland conceded another penalty right in front of thrown sticks, and Tadhg Furlong eventually barges over.

44 mins:

Russell kicks the restart out on the full.

Ireland pulverise the scrum to win a penalty.

‘Fields of Athenry’ echoes around the Aviva.

43 mins:


Ireland 10 Scotland 6

Jack Crowley slots the points from right in front of the posts.

A reminder:

  • Ireland will retain the title if they win or draw against Scotland in Dublin.
  • If Ireland lose but secure a bonus point – for scoring four tries or finishing within seven points of Scotland – they will most likely clinch the title given their vastly superior points difference.
  • An Ireland defeat without a bonus point should still be enough if England win without a bonus point.
  • England will be crowned champions if they win with a bonus point and Ireland fail to collect a point. Scotland need to win with a bonus point, deny Ireland a point and overturn Ireland’s huge points difference advantage to have any chance.
  • They then need France to beat England without a bonus point or with a bonus-point win by a smaller margin.

Some stats which give a flavour of the match.

  • Carries: Ireland 73, Scotland 48
  • Metres made: Ireland 434, Scotland 264
  • Tackles Made/Missed: Ireland 68/9, Scotland 116/10
  • Penalties conceded: Ireland 2, Scotland 6.
  • Offloads: Ireland 4, Scotland 2.

HALF TIME: Ireland 7 Scotland 6

41 mins: 

Blair Kinghorn guilty of a hight shot on Calvin Nash but there’s not anything more than a penalty in it given the Irish winger was almost bent double at the point of impact.

38 mins:

A knock-on by Ben White at the base of a ruck gives Ireland what should be the last attacking platform of the half, although the scrum is only just inside Scotland’s half.

34 mins:

Schoeman is pinged for crossing but Crowley misses the penalty from 40-odd yards out and slap-bang in front of the posts.

31 mins:

Second scrum of match. Pierre Schoeman penalised for popping his head up. Ireland kick for touch, and work the ball into a great attacking position 20 yards out and directly in front of the posts, but Christie does well to wrap up van der Flier and win a pressure-relieving penalty.

29 mins:

Scotland are recycling fast, moving the ball well and asking questions of Ireland’s defence, but no significant headway at this stage.

27 mins:

Stafford McDowall, on his Six Nations debut, slips past Bundee Aki in midfield and carries 30 metres.

21 mins:

Scotland penalised when Kyle Steyn runs sideways across the park and when he is finally brought down, van deer Flier get over the ball like a limpet to win the penalty.

16 mins:


Ireland 7 Scotland 6

Offside against Ireland flanker Josh can der Flier, and Russell kicks the points from right in front of the sticks.

13 mins:

Try and conversion

Ireland 7 Scotland 3

Ireland pule on the pressure, kicking penalty into the corner, and although they are bundled into touch, Scotland hand them back the initiative with a wild throw over the top of Grant Gilchrist at a shortened line-out, and Dan Sheehan is on hand to gather then barge over.

Crowley converts.

11 mins:

Jack Crowley drops the restart onto a sixpence and Ireland win possession back. Crowley and Lowe both pin Scotland back with well judged grubbers into the left hard corner.

6 mins:


Ireland 0 Scotland 3

Lowe is penalised for crawling along the floor with the ball and Finn Russell points to the sticks. Its 40-metres out and 15 mins in from the right touchline. He nails it.

4 mins:

Andy Christie charges down James Lowe deep inside Ireland’s own quarter, but the ball bounces out of play. Ireland concede a free-kick at the line-out, but Scotland cough-up possession in contact, and the chance is gone.

3 mins:

It’s cat-and-mouse during the opening minutes. Duhan van der Merwe gives away a holding on penalty on halfway, Tadhg Beirne knocks on as he collects the ball running a dangerous line on Scotland’s 22.

Saturday 4.45pm:


From Our Voice in the Crowd.

Saturday 4.35pm:

Late change for Ireland. Jordan Larmour is in for Hugo Keenan.

Saturday 4.14pm:

Zander will become Scotland’s most capped prop today when he makes his 67th appearance, surpassing Euan Murray.

Zander Fagerson. Image: © Craig Watson
Zander Fagerson. Image: © Craig Watson –

Saturday 4.10pm:

Finals score in Cardiff: Wales 21 Italy 24.

That means, as long as Scotland avoid losing by 38 or more points, they will avoid finishing fifth!

Saturday 3.30pm:

Scotland replacement Elliot Millar-Mills is out due to a calf injury so Javan Sebastian comes onto the bench.

Saturday 3.02pm:

Half-time in Cardiff and it is: Wales 0 Italy 11.

If it stays like this and Scotland by 30 points and without scoring four tries then there is a very good chance they will finish fifth!

The Offside Line’s rugby coverage is supported by Kerr’s Borders Gin from The Borders Distillery.

Saturday 11.39am:

time for score predictions …

  • David Barnes (‘the editor’): Ireland 32 Scotland 10
  • Robert Stitt (‘the voice in the crowd’): Ireland 28 Scotland 8
  • Stuart Bathgate (‘the doyen’): Ireland 40 Scotland 11
  • Graeme Macpherson (‘the king of the freelancers’): Ireland 52 Scotland 3
  • Craig Watson (‘the snapper/artist of light and shade’): Ireland 36 Scotland 18
  • Elaine Hamilton (‘the boss’): Ireland 37 Scotland 17
  • Iain Morrison (‘the grand old man’): Ireland 34 Scotland 23

Saturday 11.25am:

Robert Stott – ‘Our Voice in the Crowd’ – says: “This is all I need to see today!”

Saturday 10.32am:

It’s game day … and here is Iain Morrison’s match preview.

Six Nations: Ireland v Scotland preview: Dublin is no place to go looking for redemption

Friday 10.35pm:

Scotland Under-20s finish a tough Six Nations campaign with a fifth consecutive defeat, against Ireland at Virgin Media Park in Cork. However, Alan Lorimer reports that there were encouraging aspects to Kenny Murray‘s team’s performance, particularly in defence.

U20s 6N: Young Scots shut out as miserable campaign ends with heavy loss to Ireland

Friday 7.06pm:

Friday 4.25pm:

Scotland co-captain Rory Darge has finished his eve of match press conference. He’s a man who likes to do his talking on the pitch. Irish rugby loves to portray Scotland as a nation with ideas above their station, but there was zero evidence of that in this press conference.

“It is going to be a tough challenge,” said the flanker. “Ireland are, if not the best team in the world, then certainly one of them. Coming here to get a result is going to be a tough ask but we’ve got a lot to play for.

“Gilco [Grant Gilchrist] mentioned earlier in the week that it had been 30-odd years since a Scottish team won the Triple Crown and after a loss like last weekend the first thing you want to do is get back out there and try to put things as right as you can. That’s what we are looking for.

Rory Darge.Image: © Craig Watson -
Rory Darge. Image: © Craig Watson –

“It’s going to be tough. Ireland seem to be able to deal with a lot that’s thrown at them. We just need to focus on what we can do better from the Italy game but also what we think might put them under a bit of pressure.

“We’ve had a lot of learnings over this last week as you can imagine. It’s now just about putting it out there.

“It’s about staying in the moment. Every moment is going to be huge against Ireland. If you aren’t in a moment or you switch off, they’re likely to make you pay for it.

“That’s an area where we have had a lot of growth but it’s still an area of growth for us, that staying in the moment and the mental space of it.

“I would say that tomorrow all we can do is focus on ourselves and then hopefully prove something for you. In recent years, it’s not been the case but we’ve got full belief that if we do everything we can we will put pressure on them.”

Friday 1.33pm:

Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony has insisted that the significance of this match has not been diminished by the fact that a Gran Slam is no longer on the line following last weekend’s defeat to England. The championship title is still very much there for the taking for Ireland.

“The position that we’re in it’s very privileged and you can never take it for granted,” he said.  “What a game to be selected for and an opportunity to play for your country to win silverware.

“It’s a huge game for lots of reasons. You’ve got to play the match, not the occasion. It would mean the same to me as it would to any of the lads – it’s what we’re all here for.”

Friday 2.22pm:

Introducing our ‘Our Voice in the Crowd’ for this weekend … Robert Stitt!

Robert – who is a member of the Edinburgh Rugby fans group – says: “For Scotland, a first Triple Crown and potential championship title since the 1990s is within touching distance, while a win for Ireland will secure yet another title. Ireland are definitely more confident going into the game but never say never.”

Thursday 10.05pm:

Scotland Under-20s are in action tomorrow [Friday] evening. Head coach Kenny Murray named his team yesterday – read HERE.

Back-rower Jonny Morris is one of three players added to the starting XV after last weekend’s loss to Italy. He is a veteran from the 82-7 demolition during last year’s corresponding fixture at Scotstoun.

Asked if that experience feeds anxiety in the Scotland squad ahead of this weekend’s match, he said: “I think last year is irrelevant. We’re looking at this year, how they have played in the last few games.

“We’re looking at stats from this year’s competition. I think we’ve conceded four maul metres in the comp, and they’re on about 70. So we’ve looked at areas where we can attack them and we’re going to go at them.

“I think we can recognise what happened last year, but to make it a different story we just need to focus on the game at hand and play to our strengths. Throw the first punch, I suppose.”

“We don’t want to sit on our heels in the first 10, 20 minutes waiting for them to do something and react. We really want to be proactive this week, go at them, go hard at set-piece, test them out wide.

“Just throw the first punch, be proactive I think.”

Jonny Morris carries the ball for Scotland Under-20s during last year's heavy defeat to Ireland. Image: © Craig Watson
Jonny Morris carries the ball for Scotland Under-20s during last year’s heavy defeat to Ireland. Image: © Craig Watson –

Thursday 10pm:

The teams have been unveiled and the Scotland squad made the short trip across the water to Dublin via Ryan Air at tea-time today.

There are two changes in the Scotland backline – Stafford McDowall in for benched Cam Redpath at inside-centre and Ben White recalled for also benched George Horne at scrum-half  with the pack unchanged, while Ireland are same again in the starting XV, as both teams look to bounce back from surprise defeats last weekend.

Both sides have switched from a 6-2 to 5-3 splits on the bench.

“There’s a little bit of me learning from past experience, that sometimes when people are disappointed you tend to get a good reaction out of them as well. I suppose Scotland are hoping for the same in that regard,” said Ireland coach Andy Farrell, whose side can’t now win a Grand Slam but are still front-runners to retain the Six Nations title.

“It’s a special occasion for everyone that’s connected with Irish rugby,” Farrell added. “The history shows you that this is very hard to do, back-to-back championships, and that’s what we’re going after and that’s a responsibility we’ve got in front of our faces.

Asked whether this game will define his team’s season, head coach Gregor Townsend was unusually circumspect about Scotland’s prospects.

“We’re focused on the performance, and delivering our best performance of the campaign will give us a lot of confidence going into the summer tour, November and into the Six Nations next year,” he said.

“We’ve got to accept that they’ll score points on Saturday. I think before England they were averaging 30 points a game so it will be a test for our defence, and we have to score points. We have to get to 20 or more, which will be tough but we believe we can do that against any team.”


Ireland: H Keenan; C Nash, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Lowe; J Crowley, J Gibson-Park; A Porter, D Sheehan, T Furlong, J McCarthy, T Beirne, P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, C Doris. Replacements: R Kelleher, C Healy, F Bealham, R Baird, J Conan, C Murray, H Byrne, G Ringrose.

Scotland: B Kinghorn; K Steyn, H Jones, S McDowall, D van der Merwe; F Russell (co-captain), B White; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist, S Cummings, A Christie, R Darge (co-captain), J Dempsey. Replacements: E Ashman, R Sutherland, E Millar-Mills, S Skinner, M Fagerson, G Horne, C Redpath, K Rowe.

Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland: two changes for Dublin showdown

About David Barnes 3891 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Well I predicted a 40 point mullering by the Irish so clearly I know nothing.
    The team defended like demons , the attitude shown in defence and the game plan to limit Ireland worked for the most part. More than anything the discipline was great. You have to wonder what differed at training this week that the team decided to listen.
    Unfortunately in attack we had limited opportunities. Missing Tuipulotu i suppose (no reflection on big Stafford who played well) but it was also Russell’s worst game in years. He looked slow , didn’t kick well and threw a few poor passes. There were no moments of class which he almost always manages. Perhaps it’s him that should have been rested last week.
    The gift of a try at the lineout was just amateurish. No other team tries those speculative long throws so close to their own line, it has happened before. Turner or Gilchrist have to take the blame. Despite it being early doors that sort of mistake probably cost us the game.
    I thought the Furlong touchdown was a try and the Porter one was held up. No way could Carly have seen the ball hit the deck from his position, he clearly felt responsible for the previous fiasco and wanted to balance the account. Either way I’m comfortable with it as the Irish deserved it.
    I wouldn’t take Blairhorn on the summer tour and instead give Rowe a run. Either it will cement Rowes position or a full season in Toulouse may be the making of Kinghorn, the French won’t be long in letting him know he can’t throw the ball about like that.
    It seems to take Townsend an age to catch on. People have been trumpeting Christie and McDowalls cause from the rooftops for some time. Today they finally get a start and they were two of our best players. Let’s be honest they have been cruelly overlooked for some time. Arguably we could say the same about Bradbury and Hutchison.

    • Not quite in the shocker category. I actually thought he was flawless in the 1st half – fielded all kicks and made his tackles. And a few half breaks. His one error in the 2nd half was trying to offload which I think went to Ringrose who broke upfield. I don’t think he was to blame for the line out overthrow or the kick off straight to touch or a few other minor errors which may have swung the game. What was so bad about his performance? We’re we watching the same game

    • Yep, he got those limbs pumping a few times and looked threatening but yet again threw the pass that didn’t have to go.
      Rowe looked comfortable in his cameo and needs to get a run on the summer tour.

  2. A very creditable performance. Defensively first class. Most pundits had us down for a 20 point defeat. Hope for us yet…

  3. Ball wasn’t grounded for the try. Referee certainly couldn’t see it grounded from his angle so guessed. Didn’t want to have another review after the previous one.

    Appalling officiating, again.

    • Yup totally agree, ref was no where near. So beat the French and the Irish, does that not mean we won the 6 Nations

    • Shortest advantages given to Scotland. He was terrible.
      The refereeing in general is bad and overall more questions should be asked.

      Two main things; High tackles aplenty weren’t pinged by the ref but Kinghorn’s at the end of first half was.
      Kinghorn didn’t need to fling the pass that was intercepted and led, eventually, to the yellow card at the other end and thus the Irish try.

      If this is truly the ‘Golden Era’ of Scottish rugby then we should give up altogether as we aren’t any better in real terms than we have ever been.

      MASSIVE infrastructure and grassroots investment and development is where the SRU should be focused. Instead they are doing the same old and going backwards.

      Lastly, can we stop praising Finn and Duhan. They are good but full of themselves and rarely perform against any decent opposition.

  4. Well, what to say…

    Some immense defence at times, Christie was superb.

    The brain dead pens and decisions are still there and costing us. DvM was poor again today, so selfish with the ball.

    Our front row got mullered that second half, and the Irish kept Finn and the wingers quite.

    It is obvious this coaching team has taken the squad as far as they can. We need fresh ideas and some new energy.

  5. I wonder if their mental strength coach has made them drop Ireland down a peg or 2.
    All through this tournament we have been hearing that Ireland are ‘the number 1 team in the world’, ‘the unofficial world champions ‘ , ‘the worlds best on paper’ etc. yet every sound bite this week from Gregor or other camp members says Ireland are one of the top 2 , the second best, in the top 2, nearly the best.
    Either way Ireland would have to drop down below top 5 before we beat them. I’m not sure what they have over us because on paper I wouldn’t be swapping many of our players over . Our backs are arguably better and our front row is equally as good. It’s positions 4-8 that they will dominate us and win the game from. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter which combination we pick from, Bradbury, Ritchie, Christie, Fagerson, Darge, Watson, Dempsey et al, theirs are better.

    • I dont agree re back row in terms of who we could put out. I would love to see a back row of Crosbie Bradbury and Christie compete against the Irish. Thats a bit unfair on Dempsey but I do agree that Darge Ritchie and Fagerson do not have the physical and aggressive qualities required to compete. Completely agree re the second row. We have the poorest second row in the 6N and have had for years.RG excepted.


Leave a Reply

Please be respectful in your replies. Abusive language is automatically blocked. Your email address will not be published.