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Ireland close in on grand slam with win over Scotland

Ireland have moved just one win away from achieving a Six Nations grand slam with their 22-7 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.

March 13, 2023
13 March 2023

The Irish are just one win away from a grand slam in the Six Nations.

By outlasting Scotland 22-7 at Murrayfield on Sunday, Ireland earned a fourth straight victory of the championship to move onto 19 points - four more than defending champions France.

The French are now the only team capable of stopping Andy Farrell’s relentless squad from claiming a first Six Nations title since 2018. 

That would require Ireland losing at fortress Lansdowne Road to visiting England and France beating Wales in a match taking place a few hours earlier next Saturday.

England are hardly in great shape, either, coming off a record 53-10 loss to France in round four.

“That was an amazing Test match,” said Farrell, while warning that “England will be dangerous, but it’ll be one hell of a St Patrick’s Day weekend”.

It was a landmark day for Ireland captain Johnny Sexton who became the joint-leading points scorer in Six Nations history, the 37-year-old moving level with fellow Irishman Ronan O’Gara’s total of 557 with a penalty and two conversions.

Scotland’s 12th loss in their last 13 meetings with Ireland ended the hosts’ title challenge, though the result was in the balance at halftime with the Irish only leading 8-7 thanks to their Australian winger Mack Hansen squeezing over for a try in the right corner in the 28th minute.

Ireland showed their experience and class in the second half, with two quickfire tries around the hour mark killing off the hopes of the Scots, who didn’t manage to score a point after the break.

After Hansen took an up-and-under on the right flank, the ball was recycled to the left and, after a series of phases, Jamison Gibson-Park’s miss-pass found winger James Lowe, who barged through a challenge to ground in the corner in the 57th.

Five minutes later, man of the match Hansen also played a key role in Ireland’s third try by sending in replacement Jack Conan along the right touchline.

The back-row forward had the huge figure of Duhan van der Merwe to hold off, but he did and got over the line.

One more try was needed to claim a fourth straight bonus-point win this tournament and it nearly arrived after a length-of-the-field move. It ended with flanker James Ryan tackled about five metres out and his offload just evading Lowe.

Ireland centre Garry Ringrose will surely not be playing against England next weekend after appearing to lose consciousness making a tackle with around 10 minutes remaining.

After a lengthy period of treatment, he was carried off on a stretcher to applause around the ground.

The last of Ireland’s three grand slams in the championship was in 2018 and a fourth now looks more a probability than possibility.

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