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Ireland 19 Scotland 12

The Andy Farrell era got off to a nervy start as Ireland overcame Scotland by 19-12 in a disappointing Guinness Six Nations encounter at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, this evening.

Farrell, who succeeded Joe Schmidt as Ireland Head Coach, will feel relieved to have got the win, but will certainly be disappointed with the overall Irish performance, especially his side’s discipline, having conceded 9 penalties over the 80 minutes.

An Ireland international debut for Caelan Dorris ended after only 4 minutes of the game when injury forced the Leinster player off the field, to be replaced by Peter O’Mahony.

A minute later, however, a straightforward penalty for Adam Hastings put the visitors into the lead, an advantage that lasted only five minutes.

When Scotland No. 8 Nick Haining failed to come from the hindmost foot, Ireland were awarded a penalty only for captain Sexton to decide to kick for the touchline instead of the posts. Sexton’s bravery soon paid off as following numerous phases a huge gap opened up out wide. Conor Murray used this to his advantage to find his half back partner with an accurate pass, allowing the St. Mary’s College man score Ireland’s opening try of this season’s Guinness Six Nations Championship. With Sexton then converting his own five-pointer, Ireland held a 7-3 lead.

In a half which witnessed poor Irish discipline, Adam Hastings kicked a second penalty, when the home side was adjudged by French referee Mathieu Raynal to have collapsed the scrum. The Glasgow Warriors’ kicker left the minimum between the Celtic sides with 16 minutes on the clock.

Ireland soon went off their feet at the breakdown giving the Scots another kick at goal. Fortunately for Andy Farrell’s side, the visitors failed to take advantage.

When Ali Price went offside Sexton kicked an excellent penalty from around 40m out, but in a central position. The score extended his side’s lead to four points with 6 minutes remaining in the first half. With Jonny Gray going off his feet, following excellent work by Rob Herring, Sexton missed his first kick at posts.

On the cusp of half-time, Scotland should have scored a try following an interception from a Conor Murray pass. Despite making metres towards the Irish line, Murray’s fellow Munster man CJ Stander saved him as the South African-born player won the penalty for new Head Coach Farrell’s side.

Half-time: Ireland 10 Scotland 6.

An early second half Scottish infringement allowed Sexton extend his side’s advantage to 13-6 as an easy central penalty dissected the posts.

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg had a guild-edged chance to score his team’s first try of the game on the 50 minute mark, but failed to put both hands on the ball to properly touch down. To the ironic jeers of the Irish crowd, the fullback knocked the ball on, but with a penalty already awarded to Gregor Townsend’s men, they then scored the three points, leaving Ireland 13-9 ahead.

With Sexton’s third and fourth successful penalty kicks either side of another Adam Hastings three-pointer, Ireland held on for a 19-12 victory to begin their 2020 Guinness Six Nations Championship campaign with a victory.

Ireland can be grateful to Guinness Man of the Match for a crucial turnover in the dying minutes of the game, when it looked as Scotland would score a try near the posts. A converted try that late in the game could have levelled the scores and ended Ireland’s Triple Crown, Championship and Grand Slams hopes in the first game of the campaign.

Final score: Ireland 19 Scotland 12.

Ireland Team:

15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 10. Jonathan Sexton (captain), 9. Conor Murray.

1. Cian Healy, 2. Rob Herring, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan, 6. CJ Stander, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Caelan Doris.

Ireland Replacements:

16. Ronan Kelleher, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Andrew Porter, 19. Devin Toner, 20. Peter O’Mahony, 21. John Cooney, 22. Ross Byrne, 23. Robbie Henshaw.

Scotland Team:

15. Stuart Hogg (captain), 14. Seán Maitland, 13. Huw Jones, 12. San Johnson, 11. Blair Kinghorn, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Ali Price.

1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Nick Haining.

Scotland Replacements:

16. Stuart McInally, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Ben Toolis, 20. Cornell du Preez, 21. George Horne, 22. Rory Hutchinson, 23. Chris Harris.

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