Errors of their own doing cost Scotland dearly as they fell to a third defeat of this Six Nations, despite a late fightback, with Ireland wrapping up a second successive title at the Aviva Stadium in a 17-13 win.  

Dan Sheehan’s first half try, which came from an overthrown Scottish lineout, gave the home side a 7-6 lead at the break after Finn Russell kicked two penalties to keep the visitors within range.  

A further Crowley penalty extended the home side’s lead early in the second half, and Scotland were unable to impose their attack until Harry Byrne was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Russsell late on, after which Huw Jones' try set up a tense finale.

Victory for the hosts extends their winning run over Scotland to 10 matches, a run that stretches back to before Townsend’s time in charge.  

It also ended Scotland's hopes of winning the Triple Crown for the first time since 1990. Townsend's side must wait until the conclusion of France vs England to find out where they will finish in the table.  

Here are five things we learned from the Aviva Stadium. 

Lineout woes continue 

Not for the first time this campaign, the instability of Scotland’s set-piece was their undoing. The visitors managed the first 10 minutes of the game reasonably well, but shipped a penalty when Duhan van der Merwe strayed offside. From the lineout, Scotland coped well with an Irish trick play, bundling the hosts into touch. But calamity struck – again – on Scotland’s ball when George Turner’s throw sailed over the head of Grant Gilchrist. Dan Sheehan pounced and Ireland took the lead.  

Scotland virtually no threat at the breakdown 

Inside the first 40 seconds it was evident Andy Farrell’s men would pile on the pressure at the breakdown. When Duhan van der Merwe found himself caught in contact, both Josh van der Flier and Sheehan swooped, the latter winning the game’s first penalty. By contrast, when the hosts had possession, the breakdown threat was almost a lone effort from Rory Darge.  

To their credit, Pierre Schoeman and George Turner stuck their heads in, but they didn’t offer the same genuine threat of claiming the ball as their opposite men. It has been an ongoing problem for Scotland, amplified by Jamie Ritchie’s exclusion and the ongoing omission of Hamish Watson. Townsend might want to consider getting them both back into his back-row for occasions such as this.   

Scotland Rugby News:

Difficult day for Duhan  

You only have to look back three weeks for one of Duhan van der Merwe’s best days in a Scotland jersey. A hat-trick – the first by a Scot – in the Calcutta Cup triumph took the big Edinburgh wing to within one of Stuart Hogg’s Scotland try record. Since then it has been a different story. His opportunities in Rome were limited by the terrific debutant Louis Lynagh, and it was a tough day at the office in Dublin.  

There were only 38 seconds on the clock when van der Merwe was penalised for holding on in contact, an all-too familiar problem for a man of his physical stature. An offside penalty against the 2021 Lions tourist then gave Ireland the territory from which they scored their first try. Another penalty in contact followed in the opening quarter. A knock-on then cost Scotland a handy attacking chance on the half-hour.  

The second half was better, though. He won a terrific high ball, and saved Scotland with a covering tackle on Garry Ringrose after the Ireland replacement had broken clear.  

Another slow start to the second half 

The campaign began with Scotland rampant in Wales, at least for the first half. What followed was an equally stunning collapse that saw the visitors ship four tries. The Scots inside the Aviva Stadium must have feared similar today as another ponderous opening passage. Within four minutes of the restart, Zander Fagerson dived off his feet, allowing Crowley to extend Ireland’s lead, then Finn Russell kicked the restart out on the full, before Scotland gave away another penalty to hand the home side an attacking chance inside their 22. Ireland hammered at Scotland’s line. While in recent weeks they’ve crumbled under pressure, Scotland remained in the contest with some terrific defensive work. 

Better use of the bench 

After the defeat to France, Gregor Townsend admitted he should have gone to his replacements earlier. Last weekend in Rome, he kept Kyle Rowe in reserve for the whole 80 minutes and said the back three man, outstanding in the opening two games, was a victim of the 6/2 bench split. The Scotland coach didn’t repeat that today – unloading Ewan Ashman and Rory Sutherland inside the opening 10 minutes of the second period.  

It had no impact on the Scotland scrum, the first after their introduction steamrollered by the hosts, who had themselves introduced Finlay Bealham for Tadhg Furlong. Townsend persisted, throwing Matt Fagerson, George Horne and Cam Redpath into the fray in an attempt to grab back some control. They could not stem the tide and Porter’s try with 15 minutes to go put Andy Farrell’s men two scores clear. Rowe was the final throw of the dice shortly after as Scotland hunted some magic.  

Super Stafford  

Without Sione Tuipulotu, Scotland’s midfield looked imbalanced in Rome. Cam Redpath struggled to win the gain line. Not so today with the introduction of Stafford McDowall. His first half break should have led to more, but the Glasgow man can hold his head high after his first Six Nations start. 

To think he was ready to call quits on his rugby career not so long ago and destined not to win a renewal to his Glasgow Warriors contract. What a waste that would have been. McDowall should get the chance to go on Scotland’s summer tour and challenge Sione Tuipulotu for that number 12 jersey further down the road. 

Both McDowall and the visitors’ other outstanding contributor, Andy Christie, typified the message from the Scotland camp all week, to stay in the contest. The Saracens forward has been one of the surprise packages of the championship, keeping former skipper Jamie Ritchie out the team, as well as Lion Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury, who has been in fine form for Bristol. Christie began the day with a charge down on Gibson Park and before the hour, he had made 20 tackles. He didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.