All 27 points for Scotland in their terrific win over Ireland in the first day of the RBS 6 Nations Championship came from players with plenty of Borders connections. The 27-22 victory is only Scotland’s second win on the first day in the 19 years the competition has taken place – the other being in 2006 when they beat France at home, so historically it was a very big deal. They raced to a 21-5 lead but allowed the Irish back into the game in the second half when the visitors edged ahead by a point, but two late Greig Laidlaw penalty goals sealed the win.
Captain Greig, the former Jedforest scrum half, kicked all three conversions after ex Hawick player Stuart Hogg scored two tries in 13 minutes and former Selkirk player Alex Dunbar went over for an outrageous try after he infiltrated the line-out, collected the ball calmly from Ex Kelso forward Ross Ford at the throw-in, and snuck in to score whilst the Irish pack were wondering what he was doing in the line-out in the first place! They soon found out as coach Vern Cotter revealed that assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys had engineered this set-piece move several months ago!
While everyone in Scotland is delighted with the win the stats which appeared after the game showed there is plenty of work to do with Ireland dominant in many areas, but what was pleasing was the fact that Scotland were able to produce three first half tries out of very little ball, and while the inexperienced home front row struggled, it was valuable experience for young Zander Ferguson in particular, and when Ford came on the pitch early in the first period to take over from Fraser Brown at Hooker, he contributed greatly in shoring up the scrum and making the Scots’ pack more competitive.