Round three of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations produced compelling encounters in Dublin and Edinburgh that have seen Ireland installed as new favourites to win the title.
Here Press Association Sport examines five things we learnt from the game:
Take a bow Scotland
One of the great Calcutta Cup matches produced a thrilling Scottish victory as England departed Murrayfield on the end of an emphatic 25-13 defeat. Gregor Townsend’s men were magnificent, matching their ferocity with attacking endeavour to breathe new life into the oldest rivalry in international rugby.
Finn’s the real deal
What a time for Finn Russell to answer his critics after struggling against Wales and France. The Scotland fly-half was masterful as he orchestrated the end of his side’s 10-year wait for victory over England, the highlight proving to be his long floated pass to Huw Jones that initiated Sean Maitland’s try.
England on a plateau
Eddie Jones bristles when asked if England’s progress has stalled and 24 wins from 26 Tests remains an outstanding record, but Murrayfield is a significant setback that has punctured the aura of invincibility that was returning after last year’s Grand Slam defeat in Dublin. The claim that the champions have hit a ceiling grew in credibility at Murrayfield.
The best of enemies
Warren Gatland did not even bother to disguise the barb he cast at Joe Schmidt after Ireland’s 37-27 win over Wales. Gatland cloaked his praise of the victors’ attacking play in heavy sarcasm when insisting: “I thought they were outstanding. So I apologise to Joe if I upset him a couple of years ago, if I was critical of the way they played.” It was public confirmation that the Kiwis are not on the best of terms.
Wales’ superb discipline against England two weeks ago was not repeated at the Aviva Stadium. They conceded nine penalties to an Irish side that dominated territory and possession, which equalled the total in Wales’ opening two games against Scotland and England. It cost them dear and played into the hands of the Irish, who now been shortened to odds-on favourites for the title.