Six Nations | Late Sexton penalty secures victory in Scotland

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Ireland captain Johnny Sexton’s late penalty has secured a 27-24 Six Nations victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.

Sexton kicked 17 points for Andy Farrell’s men, with Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Beirne scoring the visitors’ two tries in either half.

Scotland hit back with tries from Finn Russell, Huw Jones and Hamish Watson, but Sexton’s late penalty was enough to seal a hard-fought win for Ireland.

The win lifts Ireland up to second in the 2021 Six Nations table, eight points behind leaders Wales, who are still on course for Grand Slam glory this year.

Ireland, who led for most of the match, took the lead through a fourth-minute Sexton penalty after an infringement by Finn Russell.

Three minutes later, the Irish captain weighted a looping kick towards the right corner.

Keith Earls challenged for the bouncing ball, and Henshaw showed good anticipation to sprint on to the loose ball and ground Ireland’s first try.

Sexton missed the conversion before Russell got Scotland on the scoreboard with a 12th-minute penalty.

Russell then plundered the hosts’ first try in the 28th minute, benefiting from Garry Ringrose’s blocked kick and then James Lowe’s handling error to race over the whitewash. The Racing 92 star then converted to give Gregor Townsend’s men a 10-8 lead.

However, two penalties from Sexton (’35 and ’40) gave Ireland a 14-10 lead at the interval in Edinburgh.

Ireland extended their lead in the 49th minute, with man of the match Beirne powering over from close range after an Irish lineout on the Scottish 22. Sexton converted before splitting the posts with another accurate penalty to extend Ireland’s lead to 24-10.

Scotland responded through Jones on the hour mark, showing good pace to scythe through the Irish defence, with Lowe’s defending again looking suspect. Hogg converted to reduce Ireland’s lead to 24-17 with 20 minutes to play.

Watson breached Ireland’s defence in the 74th minute for Scotland’s third try, with Hogg adding his second conversion to draw Townsend’s hosts level.

However, with three minutes to play, Ryan Baird won a penalty for Ireland.

Sexton kept his cool to send the ball sailing through the posts, and Ireland held on for their second victory of the 2021 tournament.


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