Eoin Reddan celebrates scoring his first-half try

IRELAND HUNG on to claim a victory at Murrayfield on Sunday despite Scotland’s attempted comeback in the last quarter of the match. Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Man of the Match Ronan O’Gara all crossed for Ireland, but the visitors’ indiscipline cost them and gifted Scotland all of their points.

The penalties

Scotland coach Andy Robinson was left incensed by the the disparity in the penalty count – Ireland conceded 12 penalties while his side conceded just four, yet it was Scottish loosehead Allan Jacobsen who was sent to the sin bin in the 45th minute.

“I have two issues with the game,” said Robinson. “The high Irish penalty count and the fact that none of their players was sent to the sin bin, and the fact that they slowed down our ball illegally. The scrum just after half time when Jacobsen was sent to the sin bin was a major turning point in the game. To lose a player like that is very hard to come back from.

“I’m trying to speak to the referee, but it’s probably best if I don’t at the moment,” continued Robinson. “I want to know why he made those calls.”

Robinson’s counterpart, Declan Kidney, admitted that too many penalties had been conceded, and said he had been working with the referees to try and resolve this problem.

“A few of the penalties were our own making and I’d like to look into some of the others,” said Kidney. “We’re not complaining today. We’ve been working with the referees, I’ve met them and they’re all good men who go out and give their best opinion. It’s a difficult job.

“We need to work on what’s in our control. It’s a tough game but I’ve no doubt that all 45 men on the pitch put in a decent effort.”

The positives

Aside from the disciplinary issues that arose from the match, Andy Robinson was delighted with a much-improved performance on two weeks ago, when Scotland were thrashed 24-6 by Wales. The team showed great character right until the final whistle, and strong running by Max Evans in the last quarter brought them close to scoring a try for the first time in the game.

richie gray scotlandDan Parks brought a higher tempo to the game when he was brought on for Ruaridh Jackson in the 54th minute, and his penalty kick with 14 minutes to go took the scores to 15-21, and awoke the 63,000 crowd in their support. Despite a Parks drop goal taking them to within three of a draw, Robinson insists it was important for the side to concentrate on getting the win, not just the draw. Richie Gray (left) stole two lineouts from Ireland, and continues to impress in the second row.

Meanwhile Ireland were once again pleased with their try count – they have scored three in each their last two games – and will be left scratching their heads as to why their win today was so laboured in the circumstances. Furthermore, Ronan O’Gara appears to be playing – and enjoying – some of his best rugby in a green jersey, and he and Jonathan Sexton are giving the coaches an enviable selection headache.