Greig Laidlaw kicked four penalties as Scotland continued their resurgence by inflicting a maddening 12-8 defeat on Ireland in Sunday’s RBS Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.
The Scots trailed 3-0 at half-time but should have been dead and buried, with Ireland enjoying an extraordinary advantage in possession and territory only to be hamstrung by poor decision-making and inaccuracy in the 22.
When Ulster wing Craig Gilroy scored the match’s only try in the 44th minute, the Irish finally seemed ready to reflect their dominance on the scoreboard.
But the score inspired battered Scotland, and Scott Johnson’s players launched a stubborn fightback that drained the confidence from their opponents and renewed their own self-belief.
Laidlaw’s flawless kicking swept them clear as they celebrated their first back-to-back wins in the Six Nations since 2001, having routed Italy two weeks ago.
Injury-depleted Ireland’s decision to play uncapped Ulster duo Luke Marshall and Paddy Jackson produced mixed results, with the former enjoying a strong debut and the latter a harrowing afternoon.
Marshall’s powerful running at inside centre was a key feature of his side’s attack and he looked comfortable at this level, although at times he was aided by weak defending.
But Jackson, chosen ahead of substitute Ronan O’Gara at fly-half, missed eight points from the kicking tee and was replaced by the Munster veteran with 15 minutes to go.
The change in personnel failed to stop the rot, leaving Ireland to wonder how they managed to lose a game they should have won comfortably, and it is a result that increases the pressure on coach Declan Kidney.