Ireland's backline wasn't having any impact on the game which was a result of poor pack play and the inclusion of O'Gara. Tommy Bowe had been completely anonymous after his early play.
Ireland worked the ball through double digit phases and slowly inched their way towards the Scottish line. They were unable to fully take advantage of the half breaks that were coming their way but managed to make their way under the Scottish posts.On the 15th phase of play, just as Ireland looked like scoring, Ronan O'Gara was penalized for holding onto the ball at the breakdown. The poor support play of the Irish team was looking amateurish.
Scotland cleared their lines but once again couldn't control the lineout which allowed O'Gara to pin them in their own territory once more. Ruaridh Jackson replied with a huge kick from his own 22 into the Irish half.
Ireland took clean lineout ball and benefited from what looked like a forward pass to win a penalty at midfield. O'Gara looked uncertainly towards his captain who encouraged him to kick at goal. O'Gara had reason to be cautious as his kick tailed off to the right once again.
Ireland had one more chance to threaten the Scottish line as time ticked past 40 minutes. They moved the ball from left to right before Tommy Bowe injected some pace into the play and offloaded to Luke Fitzgerald who looked to have put Keith Earls in the clear down the left. Earls was tackled out of touch 10 meters from the line to bring a frustrating half for the Irish to an end.
Half time: Scotland 9-14 Ireland
Ireland started the second half in the same style as they had lost the ball in a ruck before a minute had ticked by. Scotland could not take advantage which resulted in another scrum at midfield.
For once, Ireland weren't the team penalized at the scrum which gave O'Gara an opportunity to kick a penalty down the line. Rory Best's throw to the front of the lineout was disrupted by Richie Gray. Scotland kicked the ball high before Tommy Bowe knocked on for another scrum at midfield. The amount of time spent scrummaging was killing the excitement of this game.
Scotland once again gave away a penalty and Referee Nigel Owens sent Allan Jacobsen to the sin bin for the infringement.
The resultant penalty was sent into the Scottish 22 and secured by David Wallace. Ireland mauled against the undermanned Scottish side successfully before Eoin Reddan sent Sean O'Brien through. However Reddan's pass was forward and pulled back for another scrum that forced Scotland into a change.
It was a significant change as Scotland withdrew back row Johnnie Beattie.
This time Ireland were penalized at the scrum as Cian Healy was singled out for not binding. Scotland cleared their lines.
Scotland had been troubling Luke Fitzgerald throughout the game with high balls. Fitzgerald finally claimed one ten minutes into the second half that allowed Brian O'Driscoll to feed Sean O Brien who showed great pace running through the middle of the field. The Leinster flanker was isolated and lost the ball which gave Scotland a short reprieve.
Scotland kicked long before Sean O Brien once again got his hands on the ball and drove his way to the try line. Once again a lack of support was the downfall of the side as Ireland gave away a penalty at the breakdown.
Ireland were making the extra man count but could not finish off the Scots.
Sean O Brien once again broke the Scottish line before an errant pass from the distinctly poor Gordon D'Arcy slowed down the move. Cian Healy recovered to carry the ball to the fringe of the try line before D'Arcy once again slowed down the move not taking advantage of an overlap. D'Arcy went to ground which allowed Ireland to recycle the ball when Ronan O'Gara burst through the Scottish defense handing off Ross Ford. Scotland 9-21 Ireland.
Ireland had finally put some real daylight between the sides which forced Andy Robinson to bring in Dan Parks at fly half.
Parks showed his O'Gara like qualities instantly as he gave Scotland a foothold in the Irish 22 with a deft kick from hand.
A clearance from Eoin Reddan led to a Scottish counter attack which resulted in a penalty for Scotland at the expense of Jamie Heaslip. Chris Patterson stepped up and continued his quality kicking. Scotland 12-21 Ireland.
This trend of Try to Penalty would probably be enough for Ireland to win this game but a better side would have really punished Ireland today.
O'Gara replied to Parks with a wonderful kick to pin Scotland close to their line once again. Declan Kidney decided that it was time to bring a few changes to the Irish side calling on Sean Cronin(for Rory Best), Denis Leamy(for David Wallace) and Peter Stringer(for Eoin Reddan).
Leamy and Cronin instantly made an impact with tough carries through the middle of the Scottish defense before Donnacha O'Callaghan threw an errant pass. Ireland's mistakes had seemingly deflated the team as well as the game.
A tennis match of sorts was always inevitable after the introduction of Dan Parks as both teams looked to play territory and kick long now.
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