Ireland edge closer to Six Nations title with BP defeat of Scotland

Ireland edge closer to Six Nations title with BP defeat of Scotland

Ireland edge closer to Six Nations title with BP defeat of Scotland

But former Scotland playmaker Townsend knows better than anyone that his side must improve their away form if they are to maintain their title challenge following back-to-back home wins over France and England.

By the time winger Blair Kinghorn claimed Scotland's sole try, Ireland had three, two to wing Jacob Stockdale.

Before Saturday's game, Scotland had not beaten England for ten years and failed to score a try against them at Murrayfield since 2004.

Their finishing let them down horribly in a fizzing first-half however, with a woeful final pass from Huw Jones denying Stuart Hogg a cakewalk home.

England suffered only their second defeat in 26 games under coach Eddie Jones and leaves the defending champions five points behind Ireland in the Six Nations table.

"We're excited, for sure, to get to Twickenham", said a typically cool Schmidt on RTÉ after the championship was confirmed. "It's weird again because we won it watching a game over which we didn't have any control over but we managed to control enough of the things that we were involved with to get the 19 points on the table that we needed".

Blair Kinghorn's try did narrow the lead to 21-8 in the 51st minute, but Ireland were simply more clinical, and there was a sense of elation when a lineout move in the corner resulted in Cronin, nearly on his knees, going over.

That will be an uphill task as Joe Schmidt's men are third in the World rankings and look to be in fine form.

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"We have to look at that". With Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton they can control the game if we just go flying into everything then they're going to pick us off.

Kiwi boss Schmidt talks frequently about keeping his players in a "bubble" in a Test match build-up, but Ulster hooker Best admitted that can not extend to players failing to think on their feet.

With forwards like Wenceslas Lauret and Yacouba Camara, who are experts in the back row, Les Bleus will bring a lot of dynamism to open play.

Asked again about Warren Gatland's "ball-in-play" jibe - the suggestion from the Wales head coach following his team's 37-27 defeat in Dublin a fortnight ago that Wales tended to win games against Ireland whenever the ball was in play for more than 44 minutes, whereas Ireland tended to win whenever ball-in-play time dipped below 37 minutes - Schmidt had an answer prepared.

"It's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point".

France's centre Gael Fickou (L) runs with the ball during the Six Nations worldwide rugby union match between France and England at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on March 10, 2018.

"I am really proud of the effort of the players".

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