Ireland showcased their clinical prowess as they convincingly defeated Scotland 36-14 in Saint-Denis, securing the top spot in Pool B and reaffirming their status as the world’s number one rugby team.
The Irish took control just 62 seconds into the game when Garry Ringrose sliced through the Scottish defense and delivered a precise pass to winger James Lowe on the left touchline. Despite Scotland’s composed response, which included rejecting three kickable penalty opportunities, they failed to put points on the board. In contrast, Ireland displayed their attacking prowess, with swift ball movement and multiple runners leading to full-back Hugo Keenan scoring Ireland’s second try.
Scotland’s fortunes worsened as they lost both captain Jamie Ritchie and full-back Blair Kinghorn to injuries within the first 20 minutes. However, Ireland’s precision in executing their game plan remained a key factor. They added two more tries before halftime following two visits to Scotland’s 22, leading to a commanding 26-0 halftime lead, despite Scotland having more possession and territory.
Ireland continued their dominance in the second half, securing two additional tries in the span of 16 minutes. Scotland managed to salvage some pride with two tries of their own in just two minutes. Nevertheless, Ireland progressed to the quarter-finals, where they will face the three-time champions, New Zealand. Scotland, on the other hand, concluded their World Cup campaign, with South Africa securing the second spot in Pool B.
Jamison Gibson-Park, Ireland’s scrum-half and the Mastercard Player of the Match, acknowledged the contribution of his team, saying, “The hard work gets done in front of me, and I am just thankful to have such a great pack and such a great backline.”
Captain Johnny Sexton praised the passionate support from the Irish fans, stating, “I thought it wouldn’t get any better after South Africa a couple of weeks ago, but they have proved me wrong again. They keep turning up for us, and it is important that we keep turning up for them.”
Looking ahead to the quarter-final against New Zealand, Sexton added, “We are delighted to win the pool; this is where we want to be now in a quarter-final against the toughest opposition we could get. The way the draw was made three years ago turned out a bit unfair; it is the hand that we were dealt, and we have to be ready for New Zealand next week.”
Ireland’s head coach, Andy Farrell, expressed excitement about the upcoming clash with New Zealand, saying, “It’s what dreams are made of. As far as a quarter-final is concerned, it doesn’t get any tougher; the respect we have got for New Zealand is through the roof, and hopefully, they have got a bit of respect for us. We will dust ourselves off first of all and recover properly from this one. But I would say that a couple of weeks ago, we got some stick for walking around and thanking our fans when they turn out in their thousands like this; it is the least we can do.”
Scotland’s captain, Jamie Ritchie, acknowledged Ireland’s superiority, saying, “Really proud of how we’ve stuck together. We had a bit of hardship from the first game, proud of how we stayed in the fight today, we showed how we can score some points at the end.”
Head coach Gregor Townsend rued missed opportunities in the first half, saying, “Yes, we had a bit of pressure. And Ireland held us out and credit to them – when you play the top teams, you’ve got to take your opportunities. We didn’t do that in the first quarter, and that was probably our best period in the game. And when the game was lost, we did come back into it. We’ve got to make sure we put points on the board, and Ireland certainly did that tonight.”