Bowe brace helps Ireland to victory

Ireland 34 Scotland 13

Ireland 34 Scotland 13

Ireland's post World Cup revival gathered pace with tonight's clinical victory over Scotland in an entertaining RBS 6 Nations clash at Croke Park.

Tries from David Wallace, Rob Kearney, Marcus Horan and two from the recalled Tommy Bowe condemned the Scots to their third successive championship defeat.

Frank Hadden's injury-hit side could take some comfort from Simon Webster's second-half breakthrough however - only their second try in the last six games.

Ireland were left to marvel at the emphatic scoreline as the Scots dominated possession and territory, only to fall victims to some devastating finishing.

Bowe's first try was controversial, but the remaining four evoked memories of Ireland's rampaging 12 months before disaster struck at the World Cup.

Every bit as satisfying as the outcome was the way new faces such as Kearney, Jamie Heaslip and Reddan continued to adapt to Test rugby.

Man of the match Geordan Murphy's promotion at full-back after Girvan Dempsey had been ruled out with a hip injury yesterday was an unqualified success.

The Leicester star was in stunning form and his display will have reignited the debate over who should be first choice for the number 15 jersey.

The only concern from the night was the 70th minute departure of skipper Brian O'Driscoll who subsequently had his right calf - the subject of a fitness test yesterday - heavily strapped.

Ireland crept past Italy in their Six Nations opener and almost completed a remarkable fightback against France last time out in a display that partially restored their battered self-belief.

Dispatching Scotland with such ruthless efficiency has provided a further shot in the arm.

It also sets up their showdown with unbeaten Wales in two weeks' time after Warren Gatland's side demolished Italy 47-8 earlier today.

With simmering tension between Gatland and his successor with Ireland Eddie O'Sullivan, the contest promises to be as much about the personalities on the sidelines as the conflict on the pitch.

The noose around O'Sullivan's neck has loosened once more but the same cannot be said for Hadden, whose own position is being subjected to growing scrutiny.

The decision to play Chris Paterson at fly-half was a partial success with the gifted Gloucester star underpinning a more ambitious approach.

Despite pulling the strings to reasonable effect however, he was unable to inspire the breakthrough that Scotland's first quarter dominance deserved.

Their determination to run the ball was evident from the start as they held onto the ball for virtually the entire opening seven minutes.

The Irish were reduced to virtual bystanders as their opponents probed away and it took a penalty by Nathan Hines to finally release the pressure.

Three routine points had been on offer but Paterson opted to take the quick penalty, a poor decision that failed to pay dividends.

Ireland were soon back on the defensive, however, as Andrew Henderson broke into space before dropping possession as he sought to unleash Nikki Walker.

A thumping hit by Andrew Trimble on Walker halted the next Scotland assault with the visitors' early dominance reducing Croke Park to eerie silence.

The home fans were brought to their feet however when Ireland staged a slick move orchestrated by Reddan only for Rory Lamont to intercept Bowe's pass.

Using their pack to inch closer to the line, Ireland won a five-metre scrum and made the most of the superb field position by scoring under the posts.

Heaslip broke from the base and slipped an inside pass to Wallace who enjoyed an uninterrupted run to the whitewash after Scotland blindside Alasdair Strokosch missed the tackle.

O'Gara improved the try and then, after Paterson replied with a long-range penalty, added a second conversion as the Scots were split open once again.

The impressive Murphy was taken out in the air but referee Christophe Berdos played advantage and Ireland pounced.

Spotting the gap, O'Gara burst into space and found O'Driscoll whose own run and perfectly-judged pass sent Rob Kearney dashing over for his first Test try.

Paterson's pinpoint kicking reduced the deficit once again and Scotland's response to the flurry of Irish tries continued with Walker almost crossing in the right corner.

The visiting pack pounded away from close range but their good work was undone when Hines conceded a penalty for punching Denis Leamy.

Scotland's woes continued 40 seconds into the second half when O'Gara planted a crossfield kick into the arms of unmarked prop Horan who strolled over.

Trimble, Leamy, Murphy and Heaslip were involved as Ireland upped the ante and O'Gara landed his first penalty of the evening to stretch the lead to 22-6.

Scotland were still holding onto the ball for long spells however and they finally pierced the wall of green shirts in the 53rd minute.

Henderson stood up in the tackle and offloaded to centre partner Simon Webster who was offered a clear path to the line and gratefully accepted.

Inevitably Paterson converted and Ireland, who had been lifted by the arrival of talisman lock Paul O'Connell from the bench, continued to look ragged in defence.

But excellent hands from Murphy and O'Gara set up a chance for Bowe who appeared to knock on ever so slightly and virtually crawled over the line for a dubious try.

The conversion was landed by O'Gara and O'Driscoll then limped off, but there was still time for one more try as Bowe completed his double in the right corner.

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