Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip was not surprised by Scotland’s fighting spirit in their RBS 6 Nations finale, but was delighted the hosts rounded off their injury-hit title defence with a victory.
CJ Stander, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Devin Toner all struck with tries as Ireland edged a thrilling clash 35-25, capitalising on pivotal yellow cards for John Barclay and Alex Dunbar.
Man of the match Heaslip remarked: “We’re just happy to give the fans who have come out today - a full house - something to cheer for.
“At times it was a fast-paced game. There was a lot of competition around the breakdown. I think we got a little bit of faster ball than them, but they came back pretty hard in the second half. We didn’t get too many opportunities in their half but I think we took them when we got them.
“We always knew they were going to come back hard. They’ve shown that in recent games and their form over the past 18 months. We took our chance when we got down there and we’re very happy with the win.”
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw acknowledged indiscipline had let the visitors down at the Aviva Stadium, with Joe Schmidt’s men scoring three tries when the Scots were reduced to 14 men
“Yeah, it did,” he said. “It’s a disappointing result because we’d talked about that. We need discipline to stay in the game. Especially in the first half, there was ill discipline - we fell on the wrong side of a couple of refereeing decisions. You get some, you don’t get some - today it wasn’t on our side.
“I don’t know whether we were slow (out of blocks) - we just couldn’t get our hands on the ball. When you’re defending for long periods it’s hard to feel you’re in the game.
“We just had to hang in there and ride the storm for a bit. We’ve done that at times, but then we let them get away with a couple of tries. Once you let Ireland away, it’s a tough team to claw back.”
But the Gloucester scrum-half was keen to focus on the positives, despite the defeat.
“It’s not all negative - not at all,” the 30-year-old said. “We came here and scored 25 points. If we can sort our defence out, we’ll be in Test matches.
“We held the ball in the middle of the game there and felt we were causing Ireland lots of problems going from our own 22 right up to theirs with ball in hand. A couple of times maybe a couple of kicks we put out in the full, just let Ireland off the hook a little bit. Little inaccuracies go a long way to winning or losing Test matches.”