Ulster warriors were at heart of Irish success
Published 03/02/2014 | 08:30
And so we ended up with five Ulster players in the Ireland starting side and though there was a discernible sense of trepidation around the place at the news that Paul O'Connell had succumbed to illness, his absence was – whisper it – barely noticed.
And all the Ulstermen played their part magnificently in this victory with Dan Tuohy – who came in to the starting side for O'Connell – deserving special mention for the way he stepped up.
It was his lineout take – a familiar routine with Rory Best throwing to him – helped set up the driving maul which resulted in Jamie Heaslip's second half try which took the game away from the Scots.
But Tuohy certainly wasn't alone though. Try scorer Andrew Trimble also had a stormer getting on the end of a dynamic Ireland move when everything finally came together at a pivotal moment, just before half-time.
Trimble's strength with the ball, kick-chase and tackling were all notably on the money and he put down a powerful marker to stay around on the international scene.
Elsewhere, Chris Henry, Luke Marshall and Rory Best also produced eye-catching efforts with Henry's work at the breakdown being just what Joe Schmidt would have wanted from him and it was in an area where he worked so well with Peter O'Mahony.
Henry even popped up with a significant ball-carry in the lead-up to Rob Kearney's magnificent 70th minute score which was created from a wonderfully sweeping move with both pace and precision featuring highly in Ireland's attacking work.
Luke Marshall was also a fairly constant presence with his strong ball-carrying sucking in Scottish tacklers while he, too, put down blue-shirts all over the park.
And what of Rory Best? As one of the team's core leaders he was in the thick of it as usual, offering himself as a close-in carrier or putting in those hard yards defensively.
His lineout throwing was also on the money and he came pretty close to getting the score which Heaslip was given.
Scrummaging wise, as well, Best played his part in getting the nudge and then some on Scotland at the set-pieces. And the bench also saw two Ulster players making an impression with Paddy Jackson looking so keen for action – he nearly got Dave Kearney in for an 80th minute try – and Iain Henderson also clearly hungry.
All told, then, a pretty good day at the office for the Ulster contingent.