Stockdale double as Ireland claim bonus-point win over Scotland

Posted March 11, 2018

Scotland's rapier invention and offloading terrified an Ireland defence at sixes and sevens from the off.

Scotland matched their hosts for much of the first half, but Ulster flyer Stockdale went over twice, the second on the stroke of halftime as Ireland went in 14-3 ahead.

It was a nervy affair for Ireland, having lost a 12 point half-time lead in the second half.

It was a relatively simple equation for England, who knew that failing to pick up a bonus point for score four tries would hand Ireland the title with a game to spare. "This Irish team won't be happy unless they do that".

Rory Best says his side aren't thinking about any form, and the Ireland Captain insists they're expecting the Scots to want to hit the ground running. "At times when we were under pressure today and they were trying to play chaotic rugby, we were able to get a breath back and get control through the spine of our team".

Blair Kinghorn's try did narrow the lead to 21-8 with a well-worked try in the 51st minute, but Ireland were simply more clinical and there was a sense of elation when a lineout move in the corner resulted in Cronin, nearly on his knees, going over.

Wales gave away just two penalties against England at Twickenham, but conceded nine in the Aviva stadium.

When quizzed on the chance of securing a third title in five years this weekend, Best added: "For us, it's only about the challenge that Scotland pose, if you look at how they've been evolving, they've put together some very, very good performances".

Ireland blamed the bus arriving at Murrayfield 15 minutes late on their 27-22 loss to Scotland past year - and captain Best insisted his side have learned the hard way how to clear unforeseen hurdles.

"It's something we've looked at".

France has traditionally capitalised following a British and Irish Lions tour, as the home nations' best players battle fatigue after a long season.

"We created a lot of opportunities and one more pass needed to go to hand", Scotland skipper John Barclay said.

If the French forwards boss the breakdown than England could be in for a torrid afternoon at the Stade de France.

But a 68th-minute lineout drive provided the platform for replacement hooker Sean Cronin to scramble over for the clinching bonus point score, as Schmidt's side set a new Irish record of 11 Test wins in-a-row, beating the previous best run from 2002-2003.

They fell apart against Wales in Cardiff and came undone against England at Twickenham a year ago.

And if England do cross the line at least four times in Paris they still have a lot of work to do.