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six nations Five things we learned after Ireland's narrow victory over Scotland at Murrayfield

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Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is tackled by Finn Russell of Scotland during the Guinness Six Nations at Murrayfield

Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is tackled by Finn Russell of Scotland during the Guinness Six Nations at Murrayfield

Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is tackled by Finn Russell of Scotland during the Guinness Six Nations at Murrayfield


1 Where would we be without the brilliant Johnny Sexton? Yes, Johnny is nearer the end of his career than the beginning of it.

But he is still the main man, the leader, and how we replace Johnny is a matter that should be exercising everyone of importance in Irish rugby. Sexton has missed one kick for points in this Six Nations – and that was the one that hit the post against Scotland.

2 Either Scotland’s line-out is rubbish or Paul O’Connell is a genius coach. Ireland’s line-out did a right number on their opposition in Edinburgh, winning all but one of their own throws and pilfering Scotland’s possession almost at will. Given that Scotland’s line-out was quite good in their opening two Six Nations matches, we have to give O’Connell plenty of kudos. He has made a huge impact on this set-piece, which is the best-drilled part of the Ireland team in 2021.

3 If Ireland’s summer tour to the South Pacific goes ahead, the IRFU must tell head coach Andy Farrell that he belongs with the Irish team, not working on the Lions Tour to South Africa. Ireland were so disjointed at times at Murrayfield that there is plenty of work for Farrell, with some new players to replace the Lions contingent, to do in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

4 How can an Irish back-line, Keith Earls excepted, that looks so good in Leinster blue be as poor as they were in the first half here? Kicks blocked down, kicks not finding touch, hesitancy on the ball, players bumping into each other off the ball. Just as bringing in Paul O’Connell has improved Ireland’s forward play, so it is surely now time to involve either Ronan O’Gara or Stuart Lancaster in bringing a bit of fluency to Ireland’s back division.

5 Before this match, Tadhg Beirne wasn’t sure of his Lions place – he is now. The Munster man was immense again against the Scots, to back up his three previous strong performances in this tournament. Lions coach Warren Gatland was at the game and the fact that Beirne can play at 4,5,6 or 8 in the pack must stand to him for selection as Gatland looks for versatile players for the tour.

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