Scotland dash Ireland's Grand Slam dream
September 22, 2001
Andrew Henderson is congratulated after scoring his debut try
© Getty Images
Ian McGeechan's Six Nations gamble paid off at Murrayfield as he saw his side end Ireland's dreams of a Grand Slam with a 32-10 victory.
McGeechan saw his Scotland side turn in the most complete performance of his second stint as coach, scoring two tries in each half and keeping their own line intact until the final minute.
It was a display which obliterated an unbeaten Irish team who had been touted as title contenders before the game but must now beat Wales and record an improbable huge win over England to prevent Woodward walking off with the trophy for the second successive season.
The triumph owed much to McGeechan's faith in Paterson to switch from his usual full-back position to the wing berth he occupied with such remarkable assurance.
Then, as Gregor Townsend was enduring the kind of goalkicking disaster which has become such a feature of Scottish rugby of late, Paterson was handed the job and by the time he missed with his final attempt, handsome victory was assured.
Ireland had come into the game trying to play down talk of a Dublin decider with England next month, knowing they are never more vulnerable than when handed the tag of favourites.
And, after a dismal opening quarter in which opposing fly-halfs Gregor Townsend and Ronan O'Gara conspired to miss two penalty chances each, Irish fears came back to haunt them.
Looking bereft of attacking ideas, and with winger Geordan Murphy already off the field with a groin injury, they were blitzed by a Scottish onslaught the type of which has not been seen since their 1999 championship campaign.
John Leslie was the architect, just as he had been two years ago, breaking through a weak Brian O'Driscoll tackle and powering his way to the Irish 22-metre line.
From his unaccustomed wing role, Paterson arrived on Leslie's shoulder but instead of heading towards the line cut back in search of support.
Denis Hickie and Kevin Maggs were left trailing as Paterson continued his quest, skipper Pountney eventually arriving to sprint the remaining 15 metres unopposed.
Smith is making a habit of try-scoring. It was his late effort which brought Scotland a draw against Wales in February, and after the excellent Metcalfe and Scott Murray had both been stopped close to the visitors line, the Lions' front-row powered his way over from Townsend's short pass.
By now, the burden of goalkicking had been lifted from Townsend's shoulders.
He had spoken pre-match of his new-found confidence with the boot but the woeful early effort which sailed wide from almost in front of the posts, suggested his handling skills would be better employed on this particular afternoon.
Paterson was deadly accurate with his boot as a youngster but since his move into the professional ranks has been used exclusively as back up to Duncan Hodge.
Hodge has pulled Scotland out of the mire on more than one occasion, but having left him on the bench, McGeechan gambled, handed Paterson the responsibility and was rewarded with a conversion and subsequent penalty which gave his side a 17-point lead at the break.
Ireland were a meek shadow of the side which demolished France earlier in the competition.
As ever, skipper Keith Wood tenaciously battled for every inch of territory.
There was, however, little cohesion in the Irish attack. O'Driscoll was a virtual spectator and scrum-half Guy Easterby failed to make any of the snappy breaks which had earned him selection over Peter Stringer.
Easterby was replaced before the game was an hour old, a clear admission by coach Warren Gatland that his selection policy had been wrong.
At least his team had put themselves on the scoreboard by then, O'Gara finally succeeding at the fourth attempt, his triumphant kick preceded by an effort almost as pitiful as Townsend's had been earlier.
For all his frustrating faults, Townsend remains the master of magical trickery and his jinking burst of Bryan Redpath's short pass was too much for Ireland, who wilted away as Leslie took possession and barged past Shane Horgan for Scotland's third try.
It was all over for Ireland and O'Gara was quickly put out of his misery amid a raft of substitutions which also saw Glasgow centre Andrew Henderson handed a Scottish debut.
It was to get better for Scotland - and Henderson in particular - as Metcalfe chased down Redpath's deep kick to the corner.
Though the Scotland man stumbled in his attempts to retrieve possession, the ball rolled unkindly for Ireland too, and straight into Henderson's path, allowing a score as easy as any he could have wished for.
Girvan Dempsey crossed in stoppage time but it was scant consolation for an Irish team whose defeat was total.
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