Roux in from cold to lead the lineout as Ireland win ugly
The players will have to relive this win in the video analysis room later this week, the rest of us will happily move on.
Murrayfield was full and the Scots expected a statement performance and a result to boot. They got a turgid affair where a jittery, stagnant Ireland defended well and took advantage of their hosts’ errors to score three tries and leave with a sense of proper order restored.
The bonus point was there for the taking, but their play wasn’t good enough to earn it. Frankly, it would not have been deserved.
There were moments of magic amidst the mistakes; the cleverly worked move to set Jacob Stockdale up for Ireland’s second try; Finn Russell’s well-timed pop pass from the deck to create Sam Johnson’s score and Joey Carbery slipping between two bruising Scottish forwards before producing a stunning floated pass for Keith Earls’ winning score all lit up a cold, wind-swept stadium.
But Ireland’s first score summed up the day; a comedy of errors that gifted Conor Murray a try that put a team looking anxious at ease.
They never looked that confident, but never looked back either.
In the aftermath, Schmidt focused on his team’s set-piece excellence, their defence during a first-half in which they were pinned in their own ’22 for almost 14 minutes and didn’t concede a try.
He hailed the two decision-makers who emerged from the squad to play a leading role.
Quinn Roux wasn’t even in the initial 38-man squad selected for this tournament, but here he was running a 100pc lineout against a strong pack.
And Carbery displayed real steel; coming on for the injured Johnny Sexton and bouncing back from his early intercept pass to put in a good second-half showing.
“Anytime we get that opportunity for time for a guy like Joey he is going to profit from it,” Schmidt said.
“You know, he is growing into a player who can boss the team and his confidence… he was a bit ruffled especially after that intercept. You know what? That is good growth.
“That is good opportunity to say ‘I am under pressure here now, the team is under pressure, I’ve got to stay in the game and I’ve still got to make good decisions and I’ve still to boss the team’.
“I thought Quinn Roux stepped in, called the lineout with 100pc accuracy. Ultan Dillane got a super steal towards the end as well, so some of those guys. We’re missing Dev (Toner) and Hendy (Iain Henderson) and Tadhg Beirne but other guys are stepping up and doing a good job.
“That’s the confidence we’ve got to have in the squad because that’s the reality that can happen. It seems to be Murphy’s Law, if we get an injury in one position, your next injury is in the same position and very quickly, you’re looking to get guys involved.
“Quinn was unlucky not to be named in the squad initially and then he’s out there and bossing the lineout. That’s a big transformation to have to make.”
Roux has come in for plenty of criticism in his time as an Ireland player, but he stepped up well.
Afterwards, the South African-born second-row was quietly satisfied by his role in the win.
“Look, I just need to do my job and I know that my coach and my team have respect for me, and if I do well that I’ll keep on being selected,” he said.
“So that’s what I’m focusing on.
“It (calling) wasn’t really new to me, it was something that I’ve done with Connacht for the last two years so it’s something that I’ve got a lot of confidence in at the moment.
“I was allowed the opportunity to do it on the biggest stage and I think it went really well, so yeah, I was really happy with that.
“I was disappointed, to be honest (to miss out on the squad).
“I thought I had a really good November series, I did well, I had called the lineout really well against Italy and the USA but, sometimes it doesn’t go your way.
“But rugby is a funny game, one week you’re not in and the next week you’re starting against Scotland in a massive Test, so yeah, I’m just glad I got the opportunity and I made the most of it.”
Schmidt will pore over the tape and make his assessments, but the performance of two of his old reliables will please him.
Seán O’Brien was superb, while Rob Kearney brought calm assurance to the back-field and a good attacking edge. He might have found Stockdale on his shoulder at one point, while his pass to Chris Farrell went to deck but the intent was there and the sharpness is back.
That needs to spread to the whole team, but when the defence and set-piece are strong there’s something to work with.
SCOTLAND – S Hogg (B Kinghorn 17); T Seymour, H Jones, S Johnson (P Horne 64), S Maitland; F Russell, G Laidlaw (capt) (A Price 70); A Dell (J Bhatti 69), S McInally (F Brown 64), S Berghan (D Rae 69); G Gilchrist, J Gray; R Wilson (R Harley h-t), J Ritchie (R Harley 35-40), J Strauss.
IRELAND – R Kearney; K Earls, C Farrell, B Aki, J Stockdale (J Larmour 72); J Sexton (J Carbery 24), C Murray (J Cooney 77); C Healy (D Kilcoyne 57), R Best (capt) (S Cronin 72), T Furlong (A Porter 68); J Ryan, Q Roux (U Dillane 68); P O’Mahony, S O’Brien (J van der Flier 64), J Conan.
Ref: R Poite (France)
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