Rugby: Ruthless Ireland defeat Scotland 35-25

Ireland beat Scotland 35 to 25 on March 19, 2016.
Ireland beat Scotland 35 to 25 on March 19, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBLIN (AFP) - Ruthless Ireland punished an indisciplined Scotland to round off a disappointing Six Nations championship on a high with a 35-25 win at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Joe Schmidt's men had hoped to make history this season by winning a third title back-to-back but will have to make do with back-to-back wins, following last week's 58-15 mauling of Italy.

Scotland, who defeated France last weekend, were looking for a third successive championship win for the first time in 20 years, but a poor start and two sin-bins costing them dearly.

"We're happy with how the campaign has finished in terms of the table and results. We're glad we have given the fans something to cheer," said Ireland No8 Jamie Heaslip.

Scotland captain Gregor Laidlaw admitted their indiscipline had let them down.

"We're disappointed because we talked about how important it was to keep our discipline. We fell the wrong side of some refereeing decisions but that happens," he told ITV.

"We couldn't get our hands on the ball in the early stages, we just had to hang on and ride the storm. We did that but let them back into the game."

Scotland's indiscipline began to hurt them early on, with Johnny Sexton slotting home three penalties inside the opening 20 minutes, as the visitors found themselves on the wrong side of referee Pascal Gauzere, particularly at the breakdown.

Greig Laidlaw responded with a penalty for Scotland on 15 minutes, but the home side were dominant for the majority of the first half with Sexton looking back to his inspiring best.

Somehow, Scotland were the first to touch down with a piece of magic from the in-form Glasgow full back Stuart Hogg.

Hogg gathered Conor Murray's box-kick just on the half way line, and once he spotted the front row pairing of Mike Ross and Rory Best in his way he dummied, cut through the middle and sprinted home.

Five minutes later Scotland's discipline let them down again when John Barclay was sent to the bin for what would be a costly ten minutes.

CJ Stander punished Scotland just three minutes later, acrobatically leaping home from close range after the Irish pack pounded away at the line, and just three minutes later a second try arrived.

Sexton's left footed chip behind the Scots line looked hopeful at best, but a defensive mix up between Hogg and Tommy Seymour saw the ball bounce free and Keith Earls, on his 50th appearance for Ireland, romped home.

Laidlaw landed a penalty on the break of half time, but the traffic was all going one way.

Eight minutes after the restart Conor Murray scored his third try of the championship, nipping home once more from a yard out, to put 15 points between the sides.

Scotland's game looked over, but Richie Gray's 55th minute try showed they were up for the fight, with Tim Visser and Duncan Taylor doing well in the build up.

Just as the visitor's looked to be back in the game, they shot themselves in the foot once again.

This time it was Alex Dunbar sent to the bin for a dangerous lift tackle on Sexton, and once more Ireland were ruthless.

The hosts piled forward, and after some good play by the pack, Heaslip broke and offloaded to give Devin Toner an easy run in under the posts for his first international try.

Dunbar returned to touch down with three minutes to go, but it was too little, too late.