15. Rob Kearney – 5
Untroubled at the back, and threatening at times but in general this was another quiet performance from Kearney who now finds himself in a real battle for his once-assured Lions jersey.
14. Craig Gilroy – 6
Luke Marshall’s misplaced pass meant we had to wait until after the interval for Gilroy to register the only try of the game, his first in a Six Nations fixture. Ireland will hope to see more of Gilroy running in the remaining rounds.
13. Brian O’Driscoll – 6
Irish rugby analyst George Hook described this as O’Driscoll’s worst performance in a decade. Even at that the former captain would have scored if Keith Earls had the presence of mind to look inside, and he’s still the one man his teammates look to for a moment of inspiration.
12. Luke Marshall – 7
Ireland had an attacking threat at inside centre for the first time in a number of years as Marshall enjoyed a terrific debut at Murrayfield. He butchered an opportunity to put Gilroy in the corner after his second clean break, and might have done better with a loose ball in the Irish 22 as the pressure came on from Scotland. Otherwise there was a lot to suggest Marshall has a very bright future in green.
11. Keith Earls – 5
Back starting on the left wing, a sign that Declan Kidney (if he’s still around) will possibly look elsewhere for Brian O’Driscoll’s replacement in the centre. Earls crucially, selfishly even, took the wrong option when a simple inside pass would have put O’Driscoll under the posts.
10. Paddy Jackson – 5
Controversially picked ahead of the veteran O’Gara, he has since come under fire having missed three of his four kicks at goal and failed to find touch from a penalty which subsequently gave Scotland a foothold in the game. Clearly comfortable with the ball in his hands, and the experience will benefit him should he be called upon in the remaining two fixtures.
9. Conor Murray – 4
Had time and space to make an impact on the game, but hesitated too often and allowed the Scottish defensive line to pressure Irish ball carriers. Eoin Reddan coming off the bench stepped up the pace, and might be given an opportunity to displace a disappointing Murray against France in a fortnight.
1. Tom Court – 6
Deservedly recalled as Cian Healy serves his suspension for stamping on Dan Cole in the previous round, Court combined well in the scrum with his provincial teammate Best but was quiet in the loose.
2. Rory Best – 5
Ireland’s stand out performer in the championship thus far will be seeing six-foot-eight Jim Hamilton in his nightmares over the coming nights as the giant lock pressured the Irish lineout to malfunction. While it’s not always clear cut enough to lay the blame entirely on the hooker, Best wasn’t as effective in the loose as often as usual either. Not a great afternoon altogether.
3. Mike Ross – 6
As usual the Leinster tight-head was there to secure a solid platform at scrum-time, which he did for the most part making exception for one technical penalty. Ross didn’t contribute much else, other than a couple of strong carries but he remains irreplaceable.
4. Donncha O’Callaghan – 6
Primarily used as a late replacement recently, the original Donncha in the engine room had a difficult afternoon up against a Scottish pair which competed for every ball and every inch.
5. Donnacha Ryan – 7
Likewise, the younger Donnacha was up against a strong Scottish second-row but perhaps had a little more success than his older compatriot in the loose.
6. Peter O’Mahony – 6
O’Mahony fights for every metre gained, but unfortunately found life tough going particularly after half-time. It’s to his credit though that despite taking static ball on numerous occasions it always takes two or three tacklers to bring him down.
7. Sean O’Brien – 7
Guilty of conceding a daft penalty as Ireland found themselves frustrated at going behind, but otherwise O’Brien made another strong case for Lions selection. He slipped after a typically barnstorming run, breaking through two tackles and leaving the Scottish defence in tatters.
8. Jamie Heaslip – 5
Individually this was an improvement after a disappointing display against England. His captaincy has come under serious scrutiny however. There was worrying a level of indecisiveness from the new captain, and a lack of urgency as Ireland pushed for a winning score late in the game.
Eoin Reddan was a lively alternative at scrum-half, replacing the cumbersome Murray with ten minutes left on the clock. And if that substitution should have come earlier, Devin Toner’s introduction would have given Ireland an extra five inches in the lineout. It was great to see Luke Fitzgerald back in a green jersey but the game passed him by for the most part, while Iain Henderson had little opportunity to impress during his short stint.
The pivotal call, however, came with the arrival of veteran Ronan O’Gara immediately after Scotland had taken the lead for the first time. Did Declan Kidney hit the panic button? It was certainly a clear illustration of his lack of trust in young Jackson to complete the job. In the end O’Gara was no saviour, his frightful cross-field pass-come-chip providing further proof of his recent, possibly final, fall in fortunes.
By David Blair