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Hello and welcome to today’s liveblog from a sunny Aviva Stadium. It’s Ireland versus Scotland, and then from 8pm, the startling revelation that we are actually also huge fans of England and Eddie Jones.

Victory for Ireland this afternoon will guarantee the Triple Crown, a prize Ireland had won only six times prior to another March day in 2004 – Scotland their victims then too. It will be six Triple Crowns in 18 years if Ireland seal the deal this afternoon.

Scotland arrive here in a small bit of turmoil. The BBC reported that six Scotland players were disciplined for breaking team protocols after their win over Italy last weekend.

Captain Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Darcy Graham, Sam Johnson, and Sione Tuipulotu were involved.

Russell has lost his place for this clash with Blair Kinghorn coming in to take his shirt. Ireland meanwhile have recalled Mack Hansen and Jack Conan. Kick-off is under an hour away. These are the teams.

Ireland:

  • 15. Hugo Keenan
  • 14. Mack Hansen
  • 13. Garry Ringrose
  • 12. Bundee Aki
  • 11. James Lowe
  • 10. Johnny Sexton (captain)
  • 9. Jamison Gibson-Park
  • 1. Cian Healy
  • 2. Dan Sheehan
  • 3. Tadhg Furlong
  • 4. Tadhg Beirne
  • 5. Iain Henderson
  • 6. Caelan Doris
  • 7. Josh van der Flier
  • 8. Jack Conan

Replacements:

  • 16. Rob Herring
  • 17. Dave Kilcoyne
  • 18. Finlay Bealham
  • 19. Kieran Treadwell
  • 20. Peter O’Mahony
  • 21. Conor Murray
  • 22. Joey Carbery
  • 23. Robbie Henshaw

Scotland:

  • 15. Stuart Hogg (captain)
  • 14. Darcy Graham
  • 13. Chris Harris
  • 12. Sam Johnson
  • 11. Kyle Steyn
  • 10. Blair Kinghorn
  • 9. Ali Price
  • 1. Pierre Schoeman
  • 2. George Turner
  • 3. Zander Fagerson
  • 4. Jonny Gray
  • 5. Grant Gilchrist
  • 6. Rory Darge
  • 7. Hamish Watson
  • 8. Matt Fagerson

Replacements:

  • 16. Fraser Brown
  • 17. Allan Dell
  • 18. WP Nel
  • 19. Sam Skinner
  • 20. Josh Bayliss
  • 21. Ben White
  • 22. Finn Russell
  • 23. Mark Bennett

Referee: Wayne Barnes [RFU].

Meanwhile in Cardiff, Italy look set to end their losing streak. What a try.

Paolo Garbisi has done it. SCENES in Cardiff. Fair play to the Azzurri.

There won’t be a Christian fed to the Lions in Rome tonight.

Check this try out – again and again and again and again. Best footwork by an Italian since Roberto Baggio shone in Italia 90.

After all that, Ireland against Scotland and England heading over to Paris is almost an anti-climax. Needless to say the sensational journalism of my colleagues is anything but. Ahead of the game, here is some reading to keep you going.

First up, Murray Kinsella’s big match preview can be read here.

“This latest incident hasn’t seen Townsend dropping any players out of the matchday 23 – indeed, Hogg, Price, Johnson, and Graham all start today – but it paints a poor picture of the state of the Scotland culture and squad standards.”

If you are keen on a longer read, this look back at the 1982 Triple Crown winning team goes beyond rugby.

This is why sport matters, why those green shirts worn that spring by the winger from Larne, the full back from Dublin, the No8, second row and hooker from rural Irish communities, the flanker who was second-generation Irish, the trio from Cork, the prop from Limerick, represented a changing Ireland. “There were no borders in our dressing room,” Moss Keane told the author, Tom English.

Instead there was something special, a link between north and south, an awareness that when Ginger crossed the line at Twickenham that the Irish diaspora in Britain would go to work the next day with added pride. 

For those of us still at home, exhausted by the drip-drip-drip of dark headlines, there was a renewed willingness to stay patient, knowing the sports bulletin at the end of the nightly news was all the light we needed.

Ciaran Kennedy sat down with Mack Hansen. You can read his interview here.

Hansen starred against Wales, scored one of the tries of the tournament in France and delivered another productive outing against Italy, before dropping out of the matchday squad for last weekend’s trip to play England. He still made the journey over to experience Twickenham, soaking it all up from the stands, the continuous chorus of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot “starting to get on my nerves a little bit.”

Johnny Sexton leads the team out. Kick off just eight minutes away.

Anthem time. Flower of Scotland first.

We are up and running.

Nice break from Darcy Graham in the opening minute.

Frantic start to the match here, Scotland playing with ambition, Ali Price making a superb break; Ireland then countering through James Lowe. Scotland on the attack again here.

Pierre Schoeman and Zander Fagerson both make big carries; a forward pass from Sam Johnson ruins Scottish plans. Ireland have started poorly.

6 minutes – Finally Ireland get some forward momentum; Graham crashes into Gray, allowing Ireland gather Gibson-Park’s boxkick. Caelan Doris moves forward down the left channel. George Turner pushes him into touch. Scotland win the throw-in.

9 minutes  Really impressive start by Scotland; they’re adding width to pretty much every attack although Ireland’s linespeed and organisation has been good in defence. Scotland win a penalty, though, Hogg kicks to the corner. They have the put-in in the Ireland 22.

10 minutes – Awful darts from George Turner – he is no Jocky Wilson, that’s for sure – Gray fails to collect and Josh van der Flier mops up before Gibson-Park clears.

11 minutes – Ali Price’s boxkick is superbly placed; Mack Hansen loses sight of it in the sky but Scotland give away a soft penalty, Kyle Steyn the culprit.

Ireland then go on the attack, Gibson-Park makes a fine break but then makes a panicky decision, kicking over Stuart Hogg’s head a little too early. Hogg recovers and then shows strength and composure to clear his lines after collecting the bouncing ball inside his end-goal area.

Oh Johnny Sexton. 50:22. What a kick.

14 minutes Sheehan finds Henderson who taps down to Josh van der Flier. He gets held up over the line. Scotland survive. They have a drop-out from their end-goal line.

17 minutes – TRY IRELAND (SHEEHAN)

Best move of the match so far from Ireland, stemming from a charge by Jack Conan. After getting good front-foot ball, Sexton works a nice wrap round move, Doris keeps the play flowing and then Conan’s pass wide to James Lowe is badly placed. Still, penalty to Ireland and they win the lineout, better again, Dan Sheehan gets across from the back of that maul, after Henderson takes a great catch at the line-out, to get Ireland off the mark.

TMO checking the grounding.

19 minutes – CONVERSION IRELAND (SEXTON)

Ireland 7-0 Scotland

Try ruled okay, Sexton’s conversion is well placed.

22 minutes – That was simply brilliant from Rory Darge at the breakdown; Ireland had put a fine move together, Beirne taking a good catch at the line out before reappearing in the same move, showing good footwork to carry into the Scotland 22. Scots defended smartly, though. Darge saved the day for them.

25 minutes – Decent period of ball retention from Ireland; Scotland’s line speed is good initially but they lose patience and both Gray and Price get caught offside.

26 minutes TRY IRELAND (Healy)

Brilliant take by Darge as Ireland attack the Scotland line; the flanker takes an awkward, bouncing ball from Sexton’s grubber kick; Ireland remain on the attack, Sheehan breaks off a maul, Beirne is next to attack, then Cian Healy and Jack Conan as Ireland move to within a yard of the Scotland line. Healy then gets over from close range for his tenth Ireland try.

Ireland 12-0 Scotland

Conversion Ireland (Sexton) Ireland 14-0 Scotland

The kick from Sexton is good.

29 minutes – Clearance kick from Gibson-Park gets great distance. Ireland, after a slow start, are finding their rhythm here. Scotland need the next score or else it’s goodnight.

32 minutes – Ireland’s defence rarely gets much praise but it has been exceptional in this championship. That last passage – where Scotland tried to do an Ireland on Ireland – ended up in a cul de sac. Van der Flier’s technique and positional sense is deeply impressive.

35 MINUTES TRY SCOTLAND (Pierre Schoeman)

TMO checking it for a double movement.

Wayne Barnes confirms it is okay.

Try stemmed from a Scotland turnover, Scotland then launching a 12-phase attack; Hogg made good inroads with a slanting run; Jonny Gray got close before Schoemann bravely dived low to touch the ball onto the line.

37 MINUTES Conversion missed by Kinghorn.

Ireland 14-5 Scotland

Penalty awarded to Ireland, Furlong does a number on Gray at the breakdown. Ireland go to the corner.

39 minutes – Turnover won by Scotland – Turner and Gilchrist did a superb job as Ireland failed to protect the ball getting back to Dan Sheehan. Henderson, again, had done a fine job at the line-out. Really, Ireland should have taken the three points. They could be 12 points up.

HALF-TIME Ireland 14-5 Scotland

So, a good first-half, Scotland bringing plenty to the party. Some of their passages of play have been excellent; some of Ireland’s defence in response to that being just as good. The difference was that Ireland looked readier to take their chances whereas the Scots lacked a bit of composure in the 22.

Some stand-out displays from Gibson-Park, Doris and in particular, Iain Henderson. You’d fancy Ireland to seal the deal at this stage, irrespective of how well some of Scotland’s play has been.

But Scotland fought back and got their try just before half-time via prop, Pierre Schoeman.

41 minutes – Ireland get a brilliant turnover there, Beirne doing what he does best. Scotland had started the half brightly. But Ireland’s defence stayed together.

Henderson again at the lineout. He has been immense.

44 minutes – We saw the best and worst from Gibson-Park in that move. First, he took a tap penalty and sprinted into the space ahead of him, realising when to kick once the Scottish defence had closed in on him.

His kick was collected neatly by Mack Hansen who then threw an overhead pass back infield; Aki was twice involved in the attack; the play moved left and Gibson Park kicked a foolish grubber to no one in particular. Scotland survive.

45 minutes – More Irish attacks; more good Scottish defence, Hamish Watson dispossessing Henderson at a time when Ireland were closing to within five yards of the line.

WHAT A TACKLE by Hugo Keenan on Stuart Hogg. Scottish captain was five yards away from glory there.

TMO checking out whether Schoemann committed foul play there when he attacked Iain Henderson. Wayne Barnes decides it is fair.

49 minutes Ireland regain control after that decent passage of Scotland play; Sheehan finds Henderson at the line-out, Ireland clear, via Sexton. They have now won another penalty – Scotland’s 10th conceded today, George Turner failing to release van der Flier after the tackle. Ireland are now into the Scotland half.

51 minutes Scotland attempt a counter-attack, Hogg passing the ball at the right time for a change, Doris doing really well to knock the ball out of Chris Harris’s hands.

52 minutes – Conan and Healy off; O’Mahony and Kilcoyne on.

53 minutes James Lowe’s attempted pass inside to Garry Ringrose is interrupted by Chris Harris. Scrum, Ireland – five metres out.

54 minutes Ireland win the scrum penalty. Good work by Dave Kilcoyne. Sexton goes to the corner.

And Scotland win it.

55 minutes Scotland are getting a few little wins here; that line-out was smartly stolen, they then win a turnover 40 yards up the field after James Lowe gets smothered in the tackle.

56 minutes And then Ireland win a second scrum penalty – Kilcoyne again putting Zander Fagerson under pressure.

57 minutes – Another chance disappears for Ireland. O’Mahony collected Sheehan’s throw and then Sheehan takes flight. Pass to Doris is good; Doris’ handling is not. Chance gone.

TRY IRELAND (VAN DER FLIER)

60 minutes CONVERSION IRELAND (Sexton)

Right that was brilliant. Gibson-Park deserves credit for staying in the fight early in the move, from subsequent phases, Henshaw, O’Mahony, Doris all made big carries, then when a sharp decision had to be made, Gibson Park scanned his horizon and saw that van der Flier had an angle to the posts. He made the right call; van der Flier’s acceleration was superb.

Ireland 21-5 Scotland

61 minutes Now we’re in the final quarter and you kind of suspect there will be a good few more scores in this game. It has been fast and open. Scotland, you suspect, will tire a little.

62 minutes Hamish Watson tackled brilliantly by Mack Hansen; earlier Stuart Hogg had stretched the Ireland defence on the opposing wing. Scotland not giving up on this to their credit.

Dan Sheehan going off after a brilliant display; Rob Herring enters the game.

64 minutes Keenan, Hansen, Henshaw, Kilcoyne, Keenan again, then Ringrose, Treadwell, Henshaw for a second time all carry but Ireland fail to go anywhere and Fraser Brown wins the turnover.

66 minutes – Some decent defence from Ireland, Mack Hansen with a great tackle on Mark Bennett, Rob Herring with an even better one on the much faster, Stuart Hogg. Scotland have been a threat – and will be an even bigger one now that Finn Russell has come in.

68 minutes – A strange passage of play which threatened to be good but ultimately was not, Sexton regaining possession for Ireland before Hansen kicked it aimlessly away. The return kick from Hogg results in Ireland dropping out from their own goalline.

70 minutes Scrum penalty to Scotland, Finlay Bealham pinged. The set-piece is a big worry for Ireland heading into 2023.

Great pass from Russell to Bennett nearly leads to a try. Scotland win a penalty when Herring is guilty of a side entry. Russell kicks to the corner.

73 minutes Big moment for Ireland; they were under severe pressure there, WP Nel went off his feet which gifted Ireland a penalty on their own line. But their defence, led by Josh van der Flier, was immense. Ireland still hoping for a bonus point try here.

74 minutes – Poor play from Kieran Treadwell there; he failed to collect Lowe’s pass and while he was under pressure, in international rugby, you expect those to be successfully gathered.

Dan Sheehan has been named player of the match.

76 minutes Dave Kilcoyne penalised at the scrum. Ball now just outside the Ireland 22.

77 minutes Brilliant strip tackle from Henshaw. Darcy Graham tackles Peter O’Mahony in the air. Three-and-a-half minutes to go; Ireland need to get across here.

78 minutes We have a schemozzle to quote our GAA friends.

78 minutes Penalty to Ireland, Sexton going to the corner, yellow card to Ben White. It is 15 versus 14 for the last couple of minutes here.

TRY IRELAND (CONOR MURRAY)

FULL-TIME Ireland 26-5 SCOTLAND

A superb carry from James Lowe showed him stay upright despite pressure from two Scottish defenders; Lowe’s offload to Murray then required the scrum-half to hold off three tacklers before he touched down.

Sexton misses the conversion. Ireland are Triple Crown winners for the sixth time this century. They won it just six times in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ireland now top the table but if France beat England later this evening then they will be champions. If England win, Ireland will have their fourth championship in nine seasons.

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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