As shakedown games go, this one ended up being a little more shaky than Ireland might have expected.
Make no mistake, Scotland showed up to play here. They were without Finn Russell but that barely mattered on a day when not many people could have complained if Scotland had come away with a win.
Gregor Townsend seemed to learn the lessons of Yokohama and started the biggest bodies he could in his pack - front row, second row and at #8 - and it paid off for Scotland almost immediately and throughout.
A little bit more accuracy in the 22 and we could be talking about a very different result here but as it is, I think Andy Farrell will be happy enough. Ireland were jaggy, a little confused structurally on both sides of the ball and under pressure in the scrum/maul, but they showed up to work in the hard moments in both halves and came out with a win.
There won’t be dancing in the streets over it, but these are the small moments that build confidence in a group under new management.
Here's Tom Savage's Ireland player ratings:
He had a great hand in Ireland’s first try with some excellent close-range hands but had a tough day under Raynal’s refereeing at the scrum. I didn’t think he imposed himself in settled phase play as well as he has previously. 5/10
Herring had a decent enough game here without overtly impressing. He was mostly solid in the lineout, mostly solid in the scrum and in defence. His ball carrying lacked impact for me. Solid enough. 5/10
Furlong had a quiet first half but began to impose himself in the second with some classic beefy ball carrying. He’s still a bit off his very best but his work in the second half is a truer reflection of what he’s all about. 6/10
Henderson frustrates me a small bit. He’s got everything in his locker to be a top-five second row in the world but he has too many games like Saturday where he mixes the good (two lineout steals) with some inconsistent ball-carrying. He drifted in and out of the contest on a day when Ireland’s front five didn’t really perform to their ability as a collective. 5/10
This was far from a poor performance from Ryan - his average days are better than most players better ones - but it lacked his usual impact. 6/10
It’s unfair to give Caelan Doris any ranking after his unfortunate departure inside the first five minutes but I felt O’Mahony came on with a point to prove, and duly proved it. Massive work rate at the offensive breakdown, some big breakdown steals on the Irish try line and a few world-class slowdowns of Scottish ball in the second half showed what he’s all about. 7/10
Josh Van Der Flier was absolutely everywhere, to the point that I began to wonder how many guys in red scrum caps were out there. He’s comfortably one of the best defensive flankers in the game right now. 7/10
A lot of people keep writing Stander off but he keeps writing himself back in. He showed the nonsense in the press of his imminent demise at test level this week up for what it was - wishful thinking. He broke the gainline, repeatedly stopped Scotland in defence and won two absolutely crucial turnovers, including a game-winning jackal on his own try line. 8/10
The Murray and Cooney battle will continue for a while longer at least. Cooney looked sharp off the bench as the game broke up, but Murray - near intercept try aside - managed the game well for the first 60 minutes in the face of slow ball and played a big part in the only try of the game. 6/10
Sexton will be pretty happy with his game, and why wouldn’t he? He scored Ireland’s only try and every point thereafter. Even at 34 years of age, he’s still Ireland’s #1 man at flyhalf by some distance. The gap between him and his currently available challengers is cavernous at the moment. 7/10
This was a quiet enough performance from Stockdale overall but he showed in a few moments why he’s such a threat at this level. 6/10
Some of Aki’s previous games were dominated by less visible work but he mixed that with some nice breaks and positive attacking moments. A decent display. 6/10
The Leinstermen had a half each at outside centre and both brought different things to the table. Ringrose looked really dangerous with ball in hand in the moments of attacking clarity in the first half and Henshaw mixed some decent defensive work in with some clever kicks that put Ireland into excellent attacking positions. 6/10
A really busy day’s work for Conway. His aggressive kick chase was rewarded twice with penalties after some blundering Scottish escort lines went so bad that even Raynal couldn’t ignore them. 6/10
He isn’t fully there with his defensive positioning but this game hinted at the all-court game that is yet to come from Jordan Larmour as he gains experience. 6/10
Cooney was a high spot, as was O’Mahony. The rest filled their roles as best they could in a jaggy overall performance from Ireland. Kilcoyne will join Doris on the unlucky list for HIA incidents soon after they took the field but both will have other opportunities. Toner, Porter and Kelleher all added something when they took the field as Ireland soaked up waves of Scottish pressure. 6/10
It’s hard to know where Ireland are right now. Maybe they don’t fully know that themselves yet. In that light, I think they’ll take the win without too much cribbing, learn what they can about themselves and move onto a bigger challenge in Wales.
Whatever about this week, I think the Welsh challenge will show us a lot more of where Andy Farrell’s Ireland are in this year’s pecking order.
*You can read Tom Savage at threeredkings.com