Top-ranked Ireland confirmed a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal after blitzing Scotland by six tries and 36-14 this morning (NZT).
Ireland topped Pool B ahead of defending champion South Africa, which it beat 13-8 in a titanic contest two weeks ago.
This one was never close as Ireland cruised to a national record-extending 17th straight win, with Scotland’s two tries coming after it was already 36-0.
The Irish have never passed the quarters and they face three-time champion New Zealand when they return to Stade de France next Sunday (NZT).
France faces the Springboks here the following day.
Underdog Scotland had to win and deny the Irish a bonus point to advance at Ireland’s expense. Instead, coach Gregor Townsend’s side slumped meekly to a record-tying ninth straight defeat against Ireland.
After only 63 seconds, Ireland was ahead. By halftime, it was 26-0 with a bonus point secured.
Center Garry Ringrose blew through a gap opened by Tadhg Beirne obstructing George Turner and Mack Hansen sent fellow wing James Lowe diving into the left corner for the first try.
After soaking up some Scottish attacks, a similar wraparound move down the left involving crafty captain Jonathan Sexton and burly center Bundee Aki led to Ireland’s second try, neatly taken by Hugo Keenan.
The third try soon after was almost too easy when Iain Henderson picked up the ball after Jamison Gibson-Park was held up on the line, and burrowed over.
A comical moment saw referee Nic Berry almost catch the ball as it was accidentally thrown to him, possibly preventing a try. It came moments later, anyway, when Sexton looped a high ball that Keenan caught off balance before twisting over. Sexton nailed his third conversion.
Magical from Ireland, a horror show from Scotland.
Tempers blew early in the second half after Ollie Smith’s attempted trip on Sexton, whose return shove started a melee which saw Scotland prop Pierre Schoeman fall over a hoarding with Sheehan. It was Scotland’s most even contest and they still lost as only Smith was shown a yellow card.
To rub it in, Sheehan turned into a left winger for the fifth try.
Sexton missed the extras and was taken off, followed by other first-teamers with the All Blacks in mind.
Sexton’s replacement, Jack Crowley, cross-kicked to an unmarked Garry Ringrose for try No. 6.
The Scots then scored two converted tries in two minutes. Center Sione Tuipulotu fed replacement hooker Ewan Ashman down the right, and Smith came out of the sin-bin to slice through midfield and pass inside to scoring halfback Ali Price.
Dan Sheehan returns at hooker for top-ranked Ireland’s final Rugby World Cup pool match against Scotland on Saturday.
Second-placed Ireland has a four-point advantage over Scotland in Pool B and is the heavy favorite to book a quarterfinal spot. Scotland has an outside chance but has lost the past eight contests with Ireland.
Iain Henderson comes in at lock for James Ryan in the only other change from the side which beat defending champion South Africa 13-8 in a titanic encounter.
Sheehan sprained a foot ligament six weeks ago in the warmup win over England in Dublin. He was in contention to start against the Springboks but coach Andy Farrell held him from that ferocious clash.
He takes over from Ronan Kelleher at Stade de France, where flanker Peter O’Mahony will win his 100th Ireland cap. He becomes the 10th player to reach the milestone for Ireland, following in the footsteps of flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, scrumhalf Conor Murray and winger Keith Earls, who are all in the matchday 23 against Scotland.
“There’s no better man you’d want sat alongside you than Peter O’Mahony,” Farrell said. “He’s a selfless player who gives everything to his teammates and backs that up with consistent performances week in, week out.”
Sexton seconded that, and added that his friend is a somewhat mysterious figure.
“He’s very different to some of the other leaders. You don’t get to see the real Peter O’Mahony, he gives very little away in public,” Sexton said. “But he’s the life and soul of the group behind closed doors.”
Centers Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose start their 24th test together, while Ryan and Kelleher are both on the bench.
The Scots are in confident mood after their B side routed Romania 84-0. But now it’s time for serious business, and Ireland beat Scotland 22-7 at this year’s Six Nations.
Coach Gregor Townsend has been boosted by the return of captain and flanker Jamie Ritchie, who suffered a head injury from Tonga winger Afusipa Taumoepeau two weeks ago and had to take a mandatory 12-day rest.
Townsend changed most of the side that started against Romania, retaining only right winger Darcy Graham — who scored four tries in that lopsided match — scrumhalf Ali Price and lock Grant Gilchrist.
Fullback Blair Kinghorn wins his 50th cap for Scotland, while Price links up with Finn Russell in the halves.
Zander Fagerson, George Turner and Pierre Schoeman will form Scotland’s front row.
Only Fagerson, lock Richie Gray, Russell and center Huw Jones remain from the starting 15 from Scotland’s last win against Ireland, 27-22 in the Six Nations in 2017.
Henderson is wary of Scotland’s lineout threat, and says the Irish need to tighten up theirs.
“There have been a handful of times over the past number of months where the lineout hasn’t gone well. The first three or four lineouts (against South Africa) didn’t go the way we wanted,” Henderson said. “Scotland have a good lineout defense, we know it’s a big area they will look to target. But we have a plan and we have confidence in that.” - AP
Played 140, Ireland won 69, Scotland won 66, 5 drawn
Ireland $1.13, Scotland $5.75, Draw $26
How to watch
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Ireland 25 Scotland 15
Ireland: Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Jonathan Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson-Park; Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne, Tadhg Furlong, Dan Sheehan, Andrew Porter. Reserves: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, James Ryan, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Keith Earls.
Scotland: Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Jack Dempsey, Rory Darge, Jamie Ritchie (captain), Grant Gilchrist, Richie Gray, Zander Fagerson, George Turner, Pierre Schoeman. Reserves: Ewan Ashman, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Luke Crosbie, George Horne, Ollie Smith.
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