Brace brings Earls outright second spot on Ireland's all-time try-scoring list

The Limerick man shared second spot for almost two years with Tommy Bowe, but moved two closer to Brian O’Driscoll today.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

KEITH EARLS SPENT 19 months in joint second place among Ireland’s all-time leading try-scorers.

Tonight, the number two spot is his alone and Tommy Bowe slips down a peg.

Earls scored his 30th try in the March 2019 Six Nations clash with France. He has played in 11 Tests since without touching down, but he was the clinical finisher Ireland needed to swing today’s season-ender against Scotland.

His first bore the hallmarks of a poacher. Instinctively sliding in, he was the first to react to Robbie Henshaw’s aerial win when Jonathan Sexton chipped the ball to the try-line on a penalty advantage.

His 32nd Test try was a familiar finish, out-pacing Darcy Graham when Peter O’Mahony invited him to head for the corner.

Just two months on from his 33rd birthday, Earls still has a few seasons to add to his tally. Although his position in the Irish rugby pantheon will be tough to better. As ever, Brian O’Driscoll’s try-scoring feats is what must be beaten. His cushion as record holder is down to a mere 14 tries thanks to Earls’ exploits against Scotland.

Earls holds the same lead over Jacob Stockdale, the next highest-scoring active player.

“Good to get over the line,” said the Limerick man of his two-try haul post-match. Typically, he then instantly shifted focus to the collective effort of the team.

“It wasn’t the perfect performance, but we grinded it out. Sometimes that’s what good teams do.”

Injury forced Earls to wait before slotting into Andy Farrell’s post-lockdown side, a team that shifted its ethos in the long wait between Six Nations rounds three and four. 

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With four Autumn Cup Nations appearances behind him he is confident the team is headed in the right direction, particularly after they were able to right the ship during a hard-fought first half against Scotland.

“We had a couple of fix-ups, fell off a few tackles. We didn’t go hunting them down, we let them run at us and get momentum. That’s exactly what Scotland love is momentum and playing wide-wide.

“We pulled our finger out thankfully.”

“We know where we’re at. We’re still only six or seven games into a whole new style of rugby. We’re confident that we’re building.”

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Sean Farrell

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