Six Nations: 'We may have to look at the Under-12s!' – Farrell makes light of Ireland's injury problems

By Sports Desk March 12, 2023

Andy Farrell joked Ireland may have to borrow players from a local side's Under-12s to face England after losing five more to injury in their Six Nations victory over Scotland.

Ireland claimed a well-earned 22-7 victory at Murrayfield on Sunday to take their Grand Slam hopes down to next weekend's final game against England.

Farrell's men have now won seven matches in a row in the competition – their joint-best ever run – but their latest victory may have come at a cost.

The visitors lost three of their starting forward pack inside the first 25 minutes, with Caelan Doris, Dan Sheehan and Iain Henderson making way.

Replacement hooker Ronan Kelleher was next to exit the field, leaving prop Cian Healy at hooker and flanker Josh van der Flier the lineout thrower

Garry Ringrose then sustained a serious-looking head injury late on, potentially leaving Farrell with a major selection problem for the visit of England in six days' time.

"We'll go again. We'll have a good squad," Farrell told BBC Sport. "If we get any more injuries in the week we might have to have a look at Old Belvedere Under-12s! 

"We'll lick our wounds and go again. England will be dangerous, but it'll be one hell of a weekend on St Patrick's Day."

 

There was little between the sides after a tense first half in which Mack Hansen cancelled out Huw Jones' try, with that the Scotland centre's tournament-high fourth of 2023.

Ireland's quality eventually told, though, as James Lowe crossed over with 56 minutes played and Jack Conan powered over to put the game out of the home side's reach.

"It was an amazing Test match," Farrell said. "There was a bit of organised chaos at half-time, but everyone had a smile on their face. 

"We didn't get the try early on, then lost Caelan. It's a monumental effort, but that's what these boys expect of each other. They've earned the right to take it to the last weekend.

"The lads can do anything at this moment in time. How we looked after each other was the most impressive thing."

Scotland would have had a second try in the first period if not for a superb Hugo Keenan challenge to stop Duhan van der Merwe from reaching the line.

Just one point separated Scotland and Ireland at half-time for the seventh time in nine Tests at Murrayfield, but Ireland found a way to make it six wins in a row in this fixture.

Johnny Sexton, who kicked seven points to draw level with compatriot Ronan O'Gara in the all-time list of Six Nations points scorers, is proud of the way his side dug in.

"It was an incredibly tough game," he told BBC Sport. "Anytime you come to Murrayfield you know you're in a Test match. That was one of the toughest first halves I've played.

"We knew it would be tough, and we're delighted to come away with the win. Now we've got to get the bodies back together. 

"We'll be playing against an English team that are hurting and one that we have huge respect for. The Irish people will get behind us next week, so we're looking forward to that."

A second defeat in a row for Scotland brings and end to their campaign, and head coach Gregor Townsend accepts Ireland were the better side over the 80 minutes.

"I'd rather talk about the first half than the second half, because the second half was disappointing," he said. "We created chances in that first half.

"It was a real high energy performance – what you'd call a proper Test match. Both teams were a little fatigued at the start of the second half, it was there for us to lift the energy.

"We didn't; we weren't accurate enough. Ireland grew in confidence and were clearly the better team in the second half. We're disappointed with the fact we didn't kick on.

"What we wanted today was a complete, 80-minute performance. We only got it for 40. We know we'll have to play well next week. Italy come here with nothing to lose."

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