Ireland’s got their Six Nations campaign off to the worst possible start with a 27 to 22 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.
Having trailed Scotland 21-5 at one stage and 21-8 at the break following a sloppy 40 minutes of rugby that saw them gift the home side chance after chance, Ireland upped the pace after the break.
They came out a different team, ramped up the pressure and hammered their way back into this game. It wasn’t enough though, as a Greig Laidlaw penalty eight minutes from time separated the sides.
Iain Henderson crashed over early in the second half and Jackson’s conversion cut the gap to six points.
The Ulster outhalf crossed the touched down himself shortly after, running a tremendous line and added the extras to put the visitors in front for the first time in the game 22-21.
By this stage green waves were crashing at Scotland’s brave defence, that was being sapped of energy due to the sheer amount of tackles they had to make.
It looked as though there was going to be one winner at this stage, but then Vern Cotter’s men made a rare break on 72 minutes. Jackson was penalised for holding on in the tackle and Laidlaw took the three points.
Laidlaw added the icing with another penalty with the last kick of the game.
Ireland’s sole first half try came through Keith Earls and Jackson hit a later penalty having missed the conversion.
Alex Dunbar crossed the line once for the home team and Stuart Hogg touched down twice, with scrum-half Laidlaw adding the extras on each occasion to leave Ireland with a lot to do in the second half.
Dunbar’s try will make for tough viewing in Ireland’s video review of the game after he took a short ball at a Scotland lineout and cantered over without a hand being laid on him.
By this stage Ireland were reeling and they were lucky not be put to the canvas as Scotland pushed and probed for what may well have been a match-winning try.
Ireland, to their credit, didn’t panic and in the second half they cranked up the intensity and when they hit the front it looked as though they would see this one out.
Concentration slipped and the foot came off the pedal however, allowing Scotland the win.
The only positive is the losing bonus point that Ireland took away from Edinburgh.