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O’Gara Steers Ireland To Triple Triumph

10th March 2007 By Munster Rugby

O’Gara Steers Ireland To Triple Triumph

Nineteen points from the boot of out-half Ronan O’Gara, two try saving tackles from Denis Hickie and a willingness to work their socks off for each other were key factors in Ireland’s fully deserved 19-18 Triple Crown winning victory over Scotland in Murrayfield

Added to Hickie’s defensive contribution was his effort up the left touchline in the 47th minute – after a super Brian O’Driscoll break – that was only denied when Sean Lamont smashed him into touch-in-goal at the corner flag.

For a side who were given absolutely no chance before kick-off, Scotland gave a good account of themselves and never once shirked the physical side, but except for the two Hickie incidents they created precious little either up front or out wide, all their scores coming from the boot of Chris Paterson.

Hickie’s first intervention came in the 24th minute when Lamont broke clear from deep and found Paterson in support, the Scottish skipper denied by the Leinster wing’s covering tackle.  Then, from the restart after O’Gara’s try, Paul O’Connell lost possession in the air, and when Scotland swept the ball wide, Hickie gambled,  dashed off his wing – leaving Paterson free –  to put in a try-saving smother tackle on Hugo Southwell. It was a pivotal moment, although it must be said, had O’Driscoll, D’Arcy or Horgan been given the same opportunity, it’s unlikely they would have failed to out their winger over. Then again, Southwell aint no O’Driscoll, D’Arcy or Horgan.

O’Gara gave Ireland the lead with a 7th minute penalty and enjoyed the better of the early exchanges as the Scots seemed inhibited with the memory of the Italian start probably still fresh in their minds. Paterson leveled in the 17th minute and encouraged by Lamont’s romp downfield they began to put the phases together until stopped in their tracks on the half hour.

Having won possession from a line-out on the right, right footed Dan Parks, going left had his kick blocked by O’Gara who gathered sharply and sped for the line.Gordoan D’Arcy in support on the right took the pass and when he was stopped, found Simon Easterby cantering up on his left. When the Scarlet was nabbed, who should be on his left only the best out-half north of Auckland to dot down under the posts.

The conversion was a gimme, but from the restart Ireland put themselves under pressure, conceded the penalty and Paterson knocked over the kick. Three minutes later O’Gara’s effort cancelled that out but in stoppage time, either John Hayes or Easterby, or both, were penalised for not rolling away and Paterson kicked straight and true to leave his side trailing by four points (13-9) .

Whatever Eddie O’Sullivan had to say to his charges at the break obviously had the desired affect because they opened the second half with greater purpose and intent and after less than two minutes  the pressure applied yielded a penalty and a yellow card for Nathan Hines. Not surprisingly perhaps, O’Driscoll spurned the shot at goals opting instead to go for the corner but that ploy yielded nothing and minutes later when they were denied at the opposite corner (when Lamont nabbed Hickie) the thought occurred that maybe it was going to be one of those days when the Gods of fortune decided that the Flower of Scotland was more appealing than Ireland’s Squall.

Two further Paterson penalties had the Scots 15-13 in front by the 59th minute nd seven minutes later the gap was stretched to five when the Scottish captain was once again unerring from the tee. But as has become the norm now with this Irish side, they held their composure, upped the tempo and rode out the storm.

Two O’Gara penalties in the space of three minutes restored Ireland’s advantage and although he was short with a 47 metre effort with six minutes remaining Ireland kept their composure to rightly claim the spoils.

Ireland:  Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll captain,,  Gordon D’Arcy  Denis Hickie; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Simon Best,  Rory Best (Jerry Flannery 59 min), John Hayes; Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell; Simon Easterby (Neil Best 67 min), David Wallace, Denis Leamy.

Scotland:  Hugo Southwell (R Lamont); Sean Lamont, Marcus Di Rollo (A Henderson), Rob Dewey,  Chris Paterson captain; Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter (S Lawson);  Gavin Kerr (A Jacobsen), Dougie Hall, Euan Murray;  Nathan Hines,  Scott Murray (J Hamilton); Simon Taylor, Kelly Brown, David Callam (A Hogg).

Referee: Dave Pearson (England).



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