Its genius was its simplicity but Ireland only had themselves to blame for Alex Dunbar’s first-half try at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Scotland centre Dunbar was one of three backs to join the line as the home side prepared for a lineout five metres from the Irish tryline.
Yet he was left unattended by visiting defenders as he collected the short lineout and darted over the line as the men in green were left to search for an explanation to another malfunction in a terrible first half on the way to their 27-22 Six Nations defeat.
Captain Rory Best took the blame for the uncharacteristic Dunbar debacle and dragged his tighthead prop, Tadhg Furlong, with him onto the naughty step.
“We were probably a little bit sluggish on that lineout try they scored, a little bit of a special move where we knew they’re a quality side who could come up with something unique,” said Best.
“You always prepare for what you’ve seen before but you also prepare yourself for something you haven’t seen. That summed up where we were probably a little bit behind. Myself and Tadhg just didn’t cover all the bases you have to at this level.”
Certainly a delighted try scorer could not believe his good fortune as his path to the tryline was delivered with ribbons on.
“The defenders were there initially and they didn’t seem to pay any attention to a centre being in the lineout,” said Dunbar. “Johnny (Gray) made the call. It was direct to me. And they moved and the gap opened up and I just concentrated on catching the ball and when I saw such a gap I just went for it.”
Adding to two early Stuart Hogg tries as the Scotland full-back exploited a sluggish defensive line with some clinical and brilliant finishing down the left wing, Ireland boss Joe Schmidt was frustrated by what he had witnessed.
“You never want to concede any tries. The tries we conceded today were particularly frustrating. The lineout one, obviously that Besty has spoken about, the two down the lefthand side that Stuart Hogg scored were frustrating as we know the danger he represents. I think if you look at the second half, the defence was pretty sound and I would hope that is something we can build on.”
Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien suggested Scotland had been given too much respect in the first half, which ended with his side trailing 21-8.
It was an opening 40-minute performance the 29-year-old is determined to make amends for against Italy in Rome this Saturday.
“It is unusual for us to start like that,” said O’Brien. We were making a few poor decisions in defence and sitting off them a little bit. We probably gave them a little bit too much respect early on. So that’s what we’ve got to put right.
“We lost a few collisions and gave them front-foot ball, we didn’t start well. They were slowing our ball, whether legally or illegally, but we’ve got to sort that out. We did sort that in the second half and there were some positives.
“We had opportunities to score more tries out there and a few good line breaks. We just didn’t convert some of the stuff we did create when we got back into the game. At this level if you give any international side a lead and momentum like that, they start to come back.”
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