By Kevin Dowling
Ireland secured first place in Pool B after beating Scotland 36-14.
The result means they top Pool B and and will face New Zealand in the quarter finals of the 2023 rugby World Cup.
Ireland’s crucial win against Scotland
The Irish team entered this fixture knowing they needed to secure at least a bonus point to qualify into the quarter finals.
A six win try against Gregor Townsend’s team not only secured them qualification but also top spot in the Pool B ahead of South Africa.
Ireland started off the game by the best way possible way with James Lowe scoring the game’s first try with just 63 seconds on the clock. It was the fastest ever try by an Irishman at the World Cup.
Garry Ringrose initiated the sequence running through a gap in the Scottish line, passing to Mack Hansen who slotted it to Lowe, who ran through to put the ball on the ground.
Scotland to their credit responded well to the try and knitted together an 18 phase passing sequence but the Irish defence managed to turn it over. This would become a theme during the 80 minutes.
Andy Farrell’s men got their 2nd try from a lineout. This time a clever pass by Johnny Sexton to Bunkee Aki found space behind their opponent’s backline. The Connacht player passed to Ringrose who once again gave the ball to a tryscorer as Hugo Keenan went over the touchline on the 26th minute.
Just 5 minutes later, Iain Henderson touch the ball down for Ireland’s third try. Scotland, demoralised and set to crash out of the World Cup, proceeded to concede a fourth to their Celtic neighbours, as Hugo Keenan secured the bonus point with 2 minutes to halftime.
Andy Farrell couldn’t have wished for a better first half. With Sexton converting three of the four tries, the scoreboard read 26 – 0.
Shortly after the referee blew his whistle for the 2nd half, a scuffle occurred on the pitch. Scotland’s Ollie Smith was put in the sin bin for a trip on Sexton. However, Pierre Schoeman avoided a card after pushing Dan Sheehan over the billboards.
Being tossed head first over the billboards, did not appear to affect the 25 – year old as he calmly scored the fifth try of the night shortly after. It was Sheehan’s first ever World Cup try.
With the game effectively over, Farrell emptied the bench with Finlay Bealham, Jack Conan, Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher, Jack Crowley and James Ryan crossing the white line.
Sexton’s replacement Crowley played a significant role in their fifth try. He kicked the ball brilliantly cross the field into the onrushing Ringrose.
On the 64th minute, Scotland finally put themselves on the scoreboard via Ewan Ashman. Their 2nd came quickly after as poor tackling from Ireland led to Ali Price touching down.
Gregor Townsend’s side couldn’t lengthen their brief 2 minutes of attacking intent as Ireland ran out 36 – 14 winners.
Yet again the Cranberries’s Zombie was echoing in the Stade de France as Ireland look to extend their winning streak against New Zealand next Saturday.
Ian Foster’s side, who finished 2nd in Pool A behind France, will seek revenge against the Irish team after losing the two last previous encounters.
Ireland on their side will hope to break the quarter finals curse in order to advance into a historic semi final qualification.
Scotland meanwhile, will face a long wait till next year’s Six Nations after this disappointing performance.