Six Nations 2020: Stuart Hogg's costly error helps Ireland beat Scotland

Andy Farrell's reign as Ireland coach got off to a triumphant start as his side earned a hard-fought 19-12 Six Nations win over Scotland in Dublin on Sunday (NZ time). 

Farrell made his reputation as a defensive coach and that's what got Ireland over the line as they defended their hearts out, denying Scotland numerous times inside the red zone. 

But Scotland will be kicking themselves for failing to capitalise on their opportunities, most notably in the second half when captain Stuart Hogg dropped the ball over the try-line in the 50th minute. 

"It was a schoolboy error," Hogg admitted after the match. "I've apologised to the boys. 

"I'm fairly disappointed not to have scored the try. We're bitterly disappointed in that dressing room not to have come away with a positive result."

The match could have been very different had Hogg grounded that ball. Instead, he will be left to rue the missed opportunity.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend refused to blame Hogg's error for the defeat. 

"Stuart was probably excited for scoring the try and it's not like him," Townsend told BBC Radio Scotland.

"We had a number of other occasions close to the try line - whether it was the ball-carrier presenting the ball better, 50-50 decisions from the referee that didn't go our way, or ourselves not getting speed to contact. They were as important as that incident.

"Stuart should flush that and move on because he was outstanding today and has been a very good leader the last two weeks."

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton scored all 19 Irish points, including a first-half try, while Scotland playmaker Adam Hastings, starting at first five in the absence of Finn Russell for off-field issues, scored all his side's points off the tee.  

Ireland celebrate against Scotland.
Ireland celebrate against Scotland. Photo credit: Reuters

The Scots headed into the match as firm underdogs after a miserable World Cup campaign, but Townsend's side looked much improved from the one which failed in Japan four months ago. 

Scotland came out firing and were first to score when Hastings slotted a third-minute penalty goal. 

But Ireland hit back 10 minutes later with a well-worked try to Sexton. 

Scotland narrowed that lead to a single point just six minutes later and had another chance to regain the lead, but Hastings' long-range effort went wide of the posts. 

A Sexton penalty gave Ireland a 10-6 lead at the break. 

Four minutes into the second period the home side stretched that lead by three more points when Sexton slotted his second penalty goal of the match. 

Then came the moment which will haunt fullback Hogg for the rest of his life when he dropped the ball over the line in the act of scoring. 

The mistake had come on penalty advantage, so Scotland opted to take another penalty goal and Hastings narrowed the Ireland lead to 13-9.

Both nations added further penalties before Scotland ramped up the pressure and continued to attack the Irish line. 

But Ireland produced some staunch defending on their try line and held on for victory in a tense contest. 

Ireland face Wales - who beat Italy 42-0 - next weekend, while Scotland will look to defend the Calcutta Cup against England at Murrayfield - both games on Sunday. 

Ireland 19 (Jonathan Sexton try, con, 4 pen) Scotland 12 (Adam Hastings 4 pen)