Scotland's Six Nations campaign ends with whimper as Ireland rack up eighth Dublin win in row over Gregor Townsend's men
The 26-5 win secured the Triple Crown for the home side and sent the Scots home to reflect on a championship which began with such promise but finished amid high farce.
Scotland gave it all on the pitch but were second best on the day as Andy Farrell’s side ran in four tries for a bonus point victory.
Events off the field were less edifying from a Scottish point of view with the build-up to this game dominated by a disciplinary breach which saw six players censured for an unauthorised night out in Edinburgh.
Among the half dozen were captain Stuart Hogg, benched stand-off Finn Russell and 50-cap scrum-half Ali Price and their antics put unnecessary pressure on coach Gregor Townsend on the eve of the game.
The defeat leaves Scotland with two wins from five, their lowest tally since 2019, and seems a paltry return given the victory over England on the opening weekend.
But this was Ireland’s day. Dublin is a city which encourages celebration and with St Patrick's weekend in full swing their supporters will savour this success.
They scored tries in the first half through player of the match Dan Sheehan and Cian Healy and got another couple after the break from Josh van der Flier and substitute Conor Murray. Veteran fly-half Johnny Sexton, an influential presence throughout, converted three of them.
Scotland got one back before half-time via Pierre Schoeman but left another one out there in the second period when Stuart Hogg should have played in Sam Johnson.
Blair Kinghorn started a Six Nations Test at ten for the first time and was tidy enough without sparking any magic.
The game began in breathless fashion and Scotland made early inroads. The visitors looked like they had the bit between their teeth as first Darcy Graham and then Price made good breaks. Schoeman then found himself in a bit of space but was stopped in his tracks by a solid tackle from the outstanding Jamison Gibson-Park.
The Irish scrum-half has been a notable performer in this championship and asked questions of Hogg with a chip over his head but the full-back dealt with it well, dummying Gibson-Park and then thumping the ball clear.
Ireland were finding their feet and Sexton was finding his range, unleashing a perfect 50-20 kick to the corner to put the Scots under pressure. The stand-off was delighted with his work, pumping his fist and grinning broadly.
The visitors survived the lineout drive on this occasion but the Irish attacks were coming in waves and Scotland were starting to creak. Sexton kicked a close range penalty to the corner and Ireland made more profitable use of the lineout maul on this occasion, Sheehan peeling off the back and plunging in between Kinghorn and Zander Fagerson for the game’s opening try which Sexton duly converted.
Scotland had held out for 16 minutes but they conceded a second try 11 minutes later. It was the home forwards who did the damage once again, with Healy being shoved over by the Irish pack, prompting a blast of U2 from the stadium PA in celebration. Sexton made no mistake with the extras.
The game was in danger of slipping away from Scotland as they struggled to put pressure on their hosts. A promising move after the first try was thwarted by a fumble from Price which had Townsend thumping the wall of the coaches’ box in frustration.
Scotland needed some inspiration and Darcy Graham provided it, popping up with an impressive surge down the right wing which took them into the Irish 22.
They then showed impressive patience and accuracy, going through the phases before Schoeman dived for the line and just made it, despite a TMO check for a double movement.
Kinghorn couldn’t convert but Scotland were back in the game and went in at half-time in better fettle.
Ireland were fast out the blocks at the start of the second period and a quick tap penalty from Jamison-Park had the Scots on the back foot. The scrum-half’s cheeky cross-kick bounced kindly for Mack Hansen, but the winger was hustled into touch by Kyle Steyn.
The game had opened up and Scotland had a golden opportunity at the other end when Steyn kicked down the right channel for Hogg to chase. The full-back hacked the ball on, collected, then went for the line when the better option looked to be the pass inside to the supporting Johnson. Hogg was nailed by opposite number Hugo Keenan in the corner and the chance was gone.
Schoeman found himself the subject of TMO review but the Scotland prop escaped any punishment for fending off Iain Henderson with his forearm.
It was hard to escape the feeling that Scotland would live to regret Hogg’s missed opportunity and so it proved. Ireland had reassumed territorial dominance and Scotland were having to defend desperately. Things were starting to look a little ragged for the visitors as space began to open up for Ireland who soon scored their third try of the match. Gibson-Park had been a thorn in Scotland’s side all game and his clever reverse pass to van der Flier gave the flanker just enough space to squeeze between Schoeman and Fraser Brown for the score which Sexton converted.
Scotland were running out of time and Russell was thrust into action with 14 minutes remaining, but at centre not fly-half, the Racing 92 man replacing Chris Harris.
Russell almost unlocked the Irish defence, taking the ball at first receiver he delayed his pass long enough to succk in a couple of defenders before playing in fellow sub Mark Bennett, but the Edinburgh man was stopped short of the line.
Ireland got the bonus point their performance deserved when, after Scotland replacement scrum-half Ben White had been sin-binned for a deliberate knock on, Murray forced his way over after good work by James Lowe.
Ireland scorers: Tries – Sheehan, Healy, van der Flier, Murray. Cons – Sexton 3.
Scotland scorers: Try – Schoeman.
Ireland: H Keenan (J Carbery 73); A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki (R Henshaw 56), J Lowe; J Sexton, J Gibson-Park (C Murray 66); C Healy (D Kilcoyne 52), D Sheehan (R Herring 62), T Furlong (F Bealham 67), T Beirne, I Henderson (K Treadwell 62), C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan (P O’Mahony 52).
Scotland: S Hogg; D Graham, C Harris (F Russell 66), S Johnson (M Bennett 61), K Steyn; B Kinghorn, A Price (B White 61); P Schoeman (A Dell 73), G Turner (F Brown 51), Z Fagerson (WP Nel 55), J Gray, G Gilchrist (S Skinner 51), R Darge, H Watson, M Fagerson (J Bayliss 62).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)