O'Gara ends Scottish hopes

O'Gara kicks Ireland to win
By Reuters

11/03/2006 at 18:24Updated

Ireland kept their triple crown and Six Nations hopes alive on Saturday by grinding out a 15-9 win over Scotland -- all thanks to the boot of Ronan O'Gara -- at a rain-drenched Lansdowne Road. Scotland, however, have lost all hopes of winning the tourname

The Munster flyhalf delivered all the points with five out of seven attempts while Edinburgh winger Chris Paterson did all Scotland's scoring in the last Six Nations match at Lansdowne Road before redevelopment begins on the stadium next year.

The home side dominated territory and possession for most of the game, but despite a few lively set piece runs, their much-vaunted back line never quite lived up to expectations in a dour game.

Scotland showed the same solid defence that was such a feature of their wins against England and France but, thanks in part to a failing lineout, were unable to threaten the Irish line.

Ireland now have six points from four games, with Scotland on four, alongside France and England, who meet in Paris on Sunday.

Depending on what happens in Paris, Ireland could win the title for the first time since 1985 with victory over the English at Twickenham next week.

Scotland, who finish off in Italy, who drew 18-18 in Cardiff earlier on Saturday, could also still snatch an unlikely title but would would need a massive win in Rome and other results to go their way.

Ireland opened with a promising break at a soggy Lansdowne Road but it turned out to be a rare glimpse of the tryline as neither side seemed to settle into a rhythm in the first half.

Ireland opened the scoring with two O'Gara penalties in the first 10 minutes before Paterson replied with two of his own.

O'Gara regained the lead in the 24th minute after a patch of sustained pressure inside the Scottish 22 eventually provoked a penalty.

Scotland evened it once again minutes later thanks to a 45-metre penalty from Paterson but O'Gara took the home side three points ahead again just before the half-time whistle.

Ulster's Andrew Trimble came the closest of anyone to scoring a try early in the second half but was tackled in to touch by fullback Hugo Southwell just in front of the corner post.

Ireland, though, should have been further ahead against a visiting side who struggled badly in the lineout and created little in attack.

The only points of the second half came midway through from O'Gara who kicked his fifth penalty of the game to take Ireland to 15-9.

Mistakes increasingly crept in on both sides during the final 20 minutes and though the Scots were within a converted try of victory they never looked capable of getting it.

O'Gara missed with a last-minute shot at goal but it did not prevent Ireland chalking up a sixth successive win over the Scots.

"We are a bit disappointed with the scoreline, we had a lot of possession and territory but didn't convert it into points," Ireland lock Paul O'Connell told the BBC.

"But we knew it was going to be a very sticky game and we are delighted with the win.

"We've done a lot of work on the lineout, you have to against Scotland who are an excellent lineout side, so we are very happy with that part of the game."

Looking ahead to next week he added: "It is Twickenham and England, probably the toughest proposition of the Six Nations.

But it nice from a position where we were heavily criticised early on in the season to be one game away from the championship. It's going to be tough but it's very interesting and we're looking forward to it."