EDINBURGH (REUTERS) - Ireland ruthlessly wore down Scotland in a commanding 40-10 victory at Murrayfield on Saturday that moved them above Wales at the top of the Six Nations standings on points difference.
Ireland will win the title for the second year in a row unless England beat France by 26 points in the final match of the tournament at Twickenham later on Saturday.
Forwards Paul O'Connell and Sean O'Brien scored early tries to put Ireland 17-3 ahead but Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell scampered over in the left corner to reduce the deficit to 20-10 at halftime.
Ireland dominated possession and were rewarded when centre Jared Payne scythed through the Scottish defence to touch down and Scotland were on the ropes when prop Geoff Cross was sent to the sin-bin.
But Jonny Sexton missed two straightforward penalties before re-adjusting his radar to extend the Irish lead to 33-10 and O'Brien burrowed over from close range seven minutes from time.
Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg failed to ground the ball over the line under heavy pressure from Jamie Heaslip, leaving Ireland to celebrate their record victory at Murrayfield.