Dan Parks kicked 18 points in Scotland’s thoroughly deserved 23-20 win over Ireland in Dublin.
Ireland were aiming for a Triple Crown after wins over England and Wales, while the visitors’ best result of the tournament was a draw last week against England.
Parks’ composed performance handed the Scots their first win of the campaign and they were clearly the better side on the night. Don’t be fooled by Ireland scoring two tries to Scotland’s one. The first Irish try should have been disallowed while the hosts were too loose in their approach.
Brian O’Driscoll’s fortuitous try handed the hosts a 7-3 lead after 10 minutes, as the Irish skipper received a forward pass in the build-up, but referee Jonathan Kaplan missed the infringement. However, for the rest of the half the Scots dominated, especially at the set-pieces.
They replied with a try from No 8 Johnnie Beattie, while Parks’s boot was invaluable.
While Jonny Sexton missed penalties at goal, his Scottish counter-part was unflappable as he kicked two penalties and drop with the last movement of the half as they went into the shed 14-7 up.
The Irish lineout continued to wobble, while Sexton missed another kickable three points. After 47 minutes, Parks showed him how to do it as the Scots extended their lead to 10 (17-7).
The Ireland flyhalf’s final act was to eventually slot three points, but with half an hour remaining, Ronan O’Gara replaced him.
O’Gara’s presence sparked the best passage of Irish play, but a vital turnover 2m from the tryline halted the move.
The Irish pressure began to tell, and with 15 minutes remaining Tommy Bowe crashed over the line, and O’Gara slotted the kick from the corner to draw the scores level.
With seven minutes remaining, Parks knocked over what looked like the match-winning points. However, Kaplan had another notable impact as he surprisingly penalised the Scots at scrum-time, after they had dominated there the entire match. O’Gara again drew the hosts level with four minutes remaining.
The string of penalties continued, and Parks kicked another magnificent penalty from the corner to seal the result.
By Grant Ball