Ireland 19 Scotland 12.
Sean McMahon reporting from the Aviva Stadium
The Andy Farrell era has started with a win but the manner of the performance would have done nothing to allay the fears that Ireland would suffer a hangover from their disappointing 2019.
Ireland took the lead through a Johnny Sexton try and although it was a lead they would never relinquish, they never looked comfortable as they struggled to gain any momentum or even establish a foothold against a stubborn Scottish outfit.
Caelan Doris’ debut turned into a nightmare as he was removed with what looked to be a head injury just minutes into the game.
Overall, Ireland will be happy to get the win but they know there is a lot of work to be done before Wales travel to Dublin next weekend.
Jordan Larmour – 8
Always looked dangerous with ball in hand. Produced a lovely break in the first half and offload to Conor Murray.
The fullback also ran an excellent dummy line for Johnny Sexton’s opening try.
Produced a huge intercept early in the second half because if the pass stuck, it looked like Scotland would be in for a try.
Put a foot into touch when trying to run out of his own 22 but overall, a very good performance for Larmour who is making the 15 shirt his own.
Andrew Conway – 6
Produced an important tackle when Scotland were putting Ireland under pressure in the opening minutes of the game. Didn’t get a lot of ball to show his attacking strengths but he contested very well in the air as Scotland struggled to compete with him.
Garry Ringrose – 7
Shot out of the line early on and missed his man but settled down defensively after that.
Produced a strong carry in the opening quarter but then finally flourished towards the end of the first half as he found more space to run with ball in hand.
Bundee Aki – 6
Typically physical in everything that he did. Aki powered into contact and made good ground with his carries. One of the few players to throw an offload.
Has a bad knock-on from a Scotland restart in the second half and he missed an important tackle towards the end of the game which led to Hamish Watson’s linebreak.
Jacob Stockdale – 6
Great take from a 22m dropout and strong run down the left-wing. Like Conway, didn’t get that much ball to impress.
Johnny Sexton – 7
Did well for his try as space opened up in front of him after Larmour committed defenders with a dummy line.
Seemed to get frustrated with referee Mathieu Raynal and didn’t seem to get his message across.
Scored all of Ireland’s points which can’t be overlooked but he will be disappointed not to have controlled the game better.
Conor Murray – 6
A bit of a mixed bag from Murray. His box-kicks were hit and miss but he ran good support lines, especially for Larmour’s first-half break.
Produced a good pass out the back for Sexton’s try but then threw an intercept pass later in the first half which almost led to a Scotland score.
Clever to play the ball off an offside Scotland player to win a penalty early in the second half but he faded as the half wore on. Cooney offered a much-needed injection of pace and zip.
Cian Healy – 6
Was penalised early on in the scrum for hinging but recovered from that to help give Ireland a decent platform. Around the park, he wasn’t too involved with regards to carrying but he did put in a lot of tackles.
Showed good work ethic especially due to him returning to the pitch after originally being substituted due to Dave Kilcoyne’s injury.
Rob Herring – 6
A busy outing for Rob Herring as he carried plenty of ball in comparison to his front-row counterparts.
Defensively he was very good and he produced a dominant tackle in the 36th minute which led to an opportunity for Sexton to kick at goal. Showed great work-rate on the kick-chase and then to make the tackle.
Tadhg Furlong – 6
A quiet enough evening for Tadhg Furlong. Often took the ball on at pace but he was constantly met with two Scottish tacklers which halted any potential momentum. Like Healy, kept the scrum steady to a large degree but we’re still looking for the Furlong of 2018 who was able to dominate the collisions a lot more consistently.
Iain Henderson – 6
Got on the wrong side of referee Mathieu Raynal with two penalties conceded inside 20 minutes but grew into the game afterwards and produced a brilliant lineout steal midway through the first half and he followed that up with another in the second half.
Carried well without getting over the gainline too much and missed one tackle in defence. We’ve seen him be a lot better.
James Ryan – 7
Was Ireland’s go-to man in the lineout and carried a lot of ball for his side but he missed a few tackles in the first half which he will be disappointed with.
Improved in the second half as his work-rate went through the roof, especially in defence when Scotland looked dangerous.
CJ Stander – 9
By far Ireland’s best player on the pitch. Stander seemed to relish the extra space that operating at blindside has offered him. Made some great linebreaks and even when he was carrying into direct traffic, the Munster man continually got over the gainline.
On the other side of the ball, he was superb. Tackling like a machine and producing vital turnovers. Close to his line in the first half and then with two minutes remaining, he latched onto the ball a metre out from his own line as Scotland were looking for a converted try which would have drawn the game.
Josh van der Flier – 6
Produced a great turnover in the first half after Scotland looked to have stolen possession from Ireland.
Caelan Doris (4′) – N/A
Huge turnover in the opening minutes of the game when Ireland were conceding a lot of ground close to their line. Then had to go off just moments later after injuring himself in a tackle.
Peter O’Mahony (4′) – 7
An incredible steal at the breakdown when Scotland were a metre out from the Irish line and he also produced a lineout steal.
Was penalised for obstruction during a promising Ireland move but besides that he looked he was out to prove a point.
Very solid defensively.
Robbie Henshaw (40′) – 5
Nice grubber kick up the touchline which led to a Scottish player running the ball into touch.
Didn’t do too much elsewhere.
Dave Kilcoyne (50′) – N/A
Only lasted a minute when he injured himself in a tackle.
John Cooney (59′) – 6
Nice box-kick over the top of the Scottish defence and into touch in their 22 when he entered the fray. Produced a second one after that which was contestable.
Injected some much-needed pace into Ireland’s attack.
Andrew Porter (65′) – 5
Like most of the replacements, he shone in his tackling as Scotland put Ireland under the pump in the final quarter.
Devin Toner (68′) – 6
Defended with his life at the end of the second half when Scotland were looking for that try. Made eight tackles in the 12 minutes he was on the pitch. A very good cameo.
Ronan Kelleher (72′) – N/A
Not on long enough to rate.
Ross Byrne (72′) – N/A
Not on long enough to rate.
Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (c), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Peter O’Mahony, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw.