Three key things from Scotland v Ireland Six Nations match
Six Nations champions Ireland got their campaign back on track on Saturday beating Scotland 22-13 at Murrayfield ending the hosts seven match home winning run in the tournament.
AFP Sports picks out three key things to emerge from the game ahead of the tournament taking a two week break.
Stockdale the executioner
The 22-year-old Ulster wing showed great character in shrugging off the elementary handling error he made in the 32-20 loss to England. Far from being demoralised by it he was at the heart of Ireland's two first-half tries. His trademark tactical grubber kick ahead should have been dealt with by the Scottish defence but the pressure exerted by the onrushing Irish unnerved them and Conor Murray pounced to touch down. He then showed up in the centre of the pitch in a brilliant move which saw Johnny Sexton offload to him and his pace took him away from the defence to score his 13th try in just 16 Tests. His audacity, turn of pace and eye for an opening make him an indispensable part of the team.
Kearney shows sure pair of old hands
The veteran fullback showed what the Irish missed last weekend against the English... an expert in that role. Robbie Henshaw had tried to manfully fill the gap after Kearney was omitted for being 'rusty' but was mercilessly exposed by superb tactical English kicking. Kearney restored to the line-up brought a reassurance to the Irish back three which was reflected in the two wings Stockdale and Keith Earls feeling comfortable in attacking more often -- the former felt liberated enough to come in from his wing to score his try. Kearney was solid under the high ball, his positional sense was excellent in anticipating attacks and added an extra arrow to the bow when he joined the line. Emblematic of his all action game was a moment in the second-half when he ran to catch one of his up and unders. He was beaten to the ball but still managed, though on the ground, to tackle the Scottish player who had caught the ball thus hindering any thoughts of a Scottish counter attack with him out of position.
Scotland could have been sitting pretty with an eight match winning home run in the Six Nations but for a series of elementary errors which unless ironed out will prove very costly and leaves them just short of the likes of Ireland, England and Wales. The tone was set by two of their more experienced hands in wingers Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland -- the latter brought in at the expense of Blair Kinghorn ironically because of his extra Test know-how -- gifting Murray his early try. Embarrassing dropped balls by Huw Jones and Kinghorn, who came on for Stuart Hogg, reflected either the pressure getting to them or laziness. Two forwards in Allan Dell and Rob Harley also failed in tackling Joey Carbery in midfield before his run set up Earls for his touchdown. Even more errors crept in as the clock ticked down when the Scots got into Irish territory. Greig Laidlaw blamed Romain Poite in part for their defeat but in fact it was far closer to home that the seeds were sewn.