Ireland outlast Scotland to stay on course for Six Nations Grand Slam
Ireland remained on course for a Six Nations Grand Slam after overcoming stiff Scottish resistance to win 22-7 at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Johnny Sexton's seven points with the boot took him level with Ronan O'Gara as the all-time top scorer in the Six Nations, while Mack Hansen, James Lowe and Jack Conan scored tries as Scotland were denied a first Triple Crown since 1990.
Ireland still have work to do just to win the title, though, as the failure to land a bonus point for the first time in this year's Championship means they need to beat England in Dublin on Saturday to ensure they cannot be caught by France.
"We knew this was going to be our toughest game of the year", said Hansen, who won man-of-the-match. "To be fair to the Scottish lads, they showed up - it was such a tough test match.
"At half-time we said this is where we want to be. We thought we'd turn it on in the second half."
Scotland got off to their best ever start in the Six Nations with victories over England and Wales, but have now come unstuck against the top two ranked teams in the world after also losing to France two weeks ago.
"They're a very good side," said Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie. "We let them get momentum second half and we're on the wrong side of the scoreline."
The hosts escaped a nightmare start on a technicality as a wayward lineout on their own line allowed Dan Sheehan to power over for what seemed to be the game's first try.
However, Scotland had not used the same ball for the restart, meaning the lineout was retaken.
Ireland were soon camped back on the Scottish line but only came away with three points as Sexton kicked over a penalty from close range.
Scotland were clinical with their first period of possession in Irish territory as swift hands from Sione Tuipulotu fed Huw Jones to run in his fourth try of the Championships under the posts. Finn Russell added the conversion.
Ireland did not trail for long thanks to a brilliant finish from Hansen to touch down in the corner from Hugo Keenan's looping pass just before he was forced into touch by Duhan van der Merwe.
The visitors should have been more than 8-7 up at half-time after Lowe sliced through the heart of Scotland's midfield.
But Ireland twice turned down a simple three points to go for the corner only to then lose their own lineout due to Ronan Kelleher's overthrows.
A scintillating first 40 minutes gave way to a scrappy start to the second with neither side able to sustain attacking momentum.
However, Ireland pulled away in the final half hour.
Hansen's leap and catch to meet Jamison Gibson-Park's box kick set up a concerted spell of pressure before Lowe wriggled clear to finish in the corner.
Sexton kicked the conversion and also added the extras after Conan was released by Hansen's pass to score Ireland's third try to equal his predecessor O'Gara on 557 Six Nations points.
Andy Farrell then replaced his skipper to potentially save the record-breaking moment for what should be a weekend of celebration when England, thrashed 53-10 by France on Saturday, visit the Aviva.
Ireland should have scored the try to secure the bonus point but James Ryan lost the ball forward with Lowe in support in sight of the line.