This was a sort of Rorke’s Drift win, a game when Ireland threw everything at the Scots, had massive possessions and territorial advantages – and couldn’t do it.
It wasn’t a pretty match, it was dogged, rugged relentless defence with the Scottish pack winning penalities fro the scrums, from which Greg Laidlaw scored with confident accuracy.
There was one try in the match – from Ireland, with a series of their players emerging from desperate rucks to throw themselves a foot or so forward like sea turtles – and the third or fourth turtle made it across the line.
For some inexplicable reason, the Irish flunked out in the first half. They had three almost certain chances of glorious running tries – and in each case they lost confidence and speed in looking out for catchers in the rye – when all they had to do was keep driving forwards and lose no momentum.
For Scotland, it was a dour old engagement in which they never once found that speed and fluency in attack that they showed against Italy – whom they defeated by a bigger margin than Wales did yesterday. But they dug in, toughed it out, had one spirited patch later in the second half, out of which came the two winning penalties.
You have to win the slogging contests as well as the balletic ones. They’ve done that. They’ve not won a back-to-back at Murrayfield since 2001. That should fuel them for Wales next time – and that will be a full-on toughie.