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Dublin: 6°C Monday 18 January 2021


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The big day is here!

Ireland are in Scotland to kick off the Six Nations and finally get all the talking out of the way and replace it with real-life on-field rugby.

We’re in place on both sides of the Irish Sea for the 2.25 kick-off and looking for reasons to avoid chewing on our fingernails.

Let us know your thoughts on the match ahead, and whether you’ve any advice for Dave Barry who can’t decide whether he’d rather listen to ROG or Paulie.

Here’s a snippet of the big man on what matchday is like for players.

Here are your teams for today’s big Six Nations opener.


15. Stuart Hogg
14. Sean Maitland
13. Huw Jones
12. Alex Dunbar
11. Tommy Seymour
10. Finn Russell
9. Greig Laidlaw (captain)

1. Allan Dell
2. Fraser Brown
3. Zander Fagerson
4. Richie Gray
5. Jonny Gray
6. Ryan Wilson
7. Hamish Watson
8. Josh Strauss


16. Ross Ford
17. Gordon Reid
18. Simon Berghan
19. Tim Swinson
20. John Barclay
21. Ali Price
22. Duncan Weir
23. Mark Bennett


15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Simon Zebo
10. Paddy Jackson
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Iain Henderson
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. Niall Scannell
17. Cian Healy
18. John Ryan
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Ian Keatley
23. Tommy Bowe

Referee: Romain Poite [FFR].

The teams are out on the field and Princess Anne is being introduced to the Scots.

Prediction time: It’s going to be tight, but Ireland have a more cohesive looking pack and that will hopefully help them build scores and leave Scotland chasing. Scotland 18 Ireland 24.

*crosses fingers”

KICK-OFF! The 2017 Six Nations is off and running, Finn Russell booting the ball into Ireland’s 22.


Seanie carries and Kearney takes the clearance duty on his left booth. Scotland have the line-out 30 metres out. But the throw is not straight and it’s scrum green.


Good start on the scrummaging front as Furlong forces a penalty off Dell and Jackson kicks us into the Scottish half.


Scotland pressure the breakdown well and they force the turnover and go wide. But the exciting move comes to an end with a knock on.


More superb scrummaging from Ireland. No referee interpretation needed here. Ireland are ploughing their way downfield, marching over the ball until the penalty comes.

Unfortunately, Best’s line-out radar is off and Scotland pin us back, forcing Earls into a sliced kick to touch.


Terrific attack from Scotland, good feet, quick hands keeping the target moving as Ireland line up tackles.

They’re on the try-line…

Flag 8Mins

TRY! Scotland 7 Ireland 0 (Hogg ’8)

The fullback gets in as Finn Russell opts to spin the ball wide away from Ireland’s pack. Garry Ringrose shoots up in chase of a pass that went to ground, but he slips and Hogg gathers to dive over.

Laidlaw nails the conversion.


Ireland weren’t exactly sleep-walking before the try, but they certainly look to be carrying fresh impetus since.

A big carry from Sean O’Brien brings a penalty and we kick to the corner.

Penalty comes again for collapsing the maul. Ireland chasing a big score here.


Ireland’s maul whistled for obstructing as it detached. Scrum blue, still camped on the five metre line though.


Scotland clear their lines, but to Kearney rather than touch and he sets Ireland up to attack from the 10 metre line.

Zebo attempts to chip through, but it hits a foot and the ball spins back.


Poite giving a warning to the Scottish scrum after another set goes Ireland’s way.

Jackson takes a very big swing puts Ireland to within 10 metres.


Oh no. The line-out goes arseways again and Scotland clear.

One set-piece cancelling out the other at the minute.

Flag 20Mins

TRY! Scotland 14 Ireland 0 (Hogg ’20)

An absolutely gorgeous try from the Lions fullback. Scotland whip the ball wide from a midfield ruck and Hogg unleashes a superb dummy to send Kearney onto the next man and Keith Earls was unable to get a hand on his heels.

Laidlaw is striking the ball beautifully.


Another good response from Ireland. It’s a long way back, but if they can sort the line-out out it’s completely possible.

Flag 26Mins

Robbie Henshaw begins the resistance with a solid carry and Ireland go through 18 phases before a penalty gives a free play to go wide with.

Zebo flings a dangerous pass left that’s almost intercepted, but it hops into the arms of Keith Earls. A fantastic finisher!

TRY! Scotland 14 Ireland 5 (Earls ’25)

TRY! Scotland 21 Ireland 5 (Dunbar ’28)

Scotland respond brilliantly to their concessions too!

A disastrous few minutes since scoring as Rob Kearney and Murray contrive to knock on into Scottish hands. Hogg kicks in behind Zebo and he’s forced to carry into touch.

From the line-out, Dunbar, a centre, is standing in the middle of the set-piece and the ball is delivererd to him with two feet on the deck and he dives straight over the line.

Howlers everywhere.


21 – 5 down, Ireland finally point a penalty towards the posts.

Jackson lines one up from 40 metres…


PENALTY! Scotland 21 Ireland 9 (Jackson ’33)


With the tide running against Ireland, CJ Stander comes forth to win a big breakdown penalty to thwart a Scottish attack.

The line-out ship has steadied from the resulting set-piece on the 10 metre line.


Laidlaw fist pumps as Ireland are penalised for going in from the side. Scotland aren’t going to wilt here, not with Ireland going side to side with one-out carriers.

Scotland pile more pressure on the Ireland line, but they almost hand it away as Zebo steals an interception.

There are navy shirts all around, so he kicks ahead. Hogg wins the race to the ball and Zebo attempts to force a choke tackle, but the hosts survive.

HALF-TIME! Scotland 21 Ireland 8


Here comes the second half. Jackson pins Scotland into the 22 and Sean O’Brien goes to make an early hit.

Hogg clears. How’s the line-out, boys?


Ugh. It’s flittered away again. But on the plus side, Sean O’Brien comes up and forces a penalty. Jackson goes back to the corner.

We’re set up inside the Scotland 22.


Stander takes, and it sticks. Murray and Jackson will pick out carriers now not put Ireland over the GL.


Excellent hands fromt he forwards, McGrath and Best getting offloads away to keep moves going, but another long set of phases ends with Zebo knocking on, but we go back for hands in the ruck.


Best passes up the points and we’re going to scrum beside the posts.

Bullish. I like it, and more importantly it keeps the ball away from the line-out.

Finn Russell is off for a HIA.


The scrum is square, but it’s scrappy ball as Heaslip picks up. Ireland  go wide but Kearney is easily cut off. They come back to Stander and Murray attempts a snipe, short, but Hendo picks and barges over.

Game on as Jacko slots the conversion!

Scotland 21 Ireland 15 


Slam Dunc! The out-half is only on because of Russell’s HIA, but he smashes a brilliant touch-finder in behind Zebo to quell any Irish momentum.


And then Weir is called ashore again.

Ireland’s line-out did well to exit from the 5, but there’s more pressure in store.


OOOmph! Poite is well placed for his mic to big up a big hit from Hendo and Ireland force a turnover.

Earls makes a break and sets Ireland in motion


Sean O’Brien is the next to make a big break, dummying  loop with Jackson before bursting through. He’s caught though and brought down. Scotland scramble well and force a penalty from Jamie Heaslip for holding on in the tackle.


Conor Murray breaks onto a loose ball after it was kicked against him. He breaks and zig-zags brilliantly into space and picks out a sublime pass to Heaslip.

The big man looks to pass, but Henshaw is too close to him and he ends up running into trouble and forcing an offload that’s intercepted.


Rob Kearney makes a break down the right flank after evading Hogg.

He’s in touch before getting a pass away to Earls. Quick check with the TMO brings a line-out.


Russell clears off the back of the line-out, but the pressure can still be applied with a line-out to come on the 22.



They go through 17 phases of big hulking carries, but in the end it’s Paddy Jackson that finds the gaps and wriggles through across the line.

Then he pops up and adds the conversion.

Scotland 21 Ireland 22


Hogg looked to have been taken in the air on the last sapping set of phases, but it was Ryan Wilson that toppled him.

This game has it all!


Big Ultan Dillane and JVDF are in the game for SOB and Hendo.


Ireland are threatening to click into a gear that Scotland can’t match, but they are still just one or two passes too rusty.

Tommy Bowe’s two touches have been poor since coming off the bench.


Ireland pinged at the breakdown and Scotland can go in search of their first score of the half.


Penalty to Scotland.

Ireland don’t roll away quick enough for Poite and Laidlaw has a chance to edge Ireland back ahead.


PENALTY! Scotland 24 Ireland 22 (Laidlaw ’72)


Kearney takes the ball back from a clearance. Can Ireland force their way into scoring position?


Scotland owning the ball in Irish territory. Not what we need right now. four minutes to go.

Dunbar takes the ball on the left wing and Tommy Bowe is rightly done for a high tackle.


Scotland go for the corner. This is what bonus points bring, Scotland going for five and trying to deny Ireland a consolation.


Ireland defend the maul, but the penalty comes again for Scotland.

The win has slipped through the fingers in Murrayfield.


PENALTY: Scotland 27 Ireland 22 (Laidlaw ’80)

FULL-TIME: Scotland 27 Ireland 22

About the author:

Sean Farrell