Scotland survived a thrilling Ireland comeback at Murrayfield to record only their second opening-round victory in Six Nations history.
The hosts enjoyed a stunning start despite Ireland’s scrum dominance, full-back Stuart Hogg crossing twice.
Keith Earls scored in the corner but Alex Dunbar’s try from a clever line-out move put the Scots 21-5 up.
Tries from Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson put Ireland 22-21 ahead before Greig Laidlaw’s two late penalties.
It was a remarkable conclusion to a scintillating opening match of this year’s Championship, with Ireland – who took a losing bonus point – having 70% of the possession in the second half.
But, despite scoring 17 unanswered points either side of the interval, Irish hopes of a third title in four years suffered a major blow.
They must now lift themselves for next Saturday’s trip to face Italy in Rome, while Scotland travel to play France the following day in buoyant mood.
Clinical Scotland punish Irish errors
This was an absolute firecracker of a Test match, a classic of its kind. It got off to a thunderous start and rarely let up. The portents for the Scots were not good in the early minutes when their scrum came under heavy attack and started shipping penalties at an alarming rate, but their game-breakers soon came to prominence and set Murrayfield alight.
Scotland were clinical, seizing on uncharacteristic Irish errors. When they applied pressure in the visitors’ 22 and Garry Ringrose unwisely came out of the defensive line, Hogg went outside him and through for the opening score.
The Scots weathered an Irish backlash and hit them with another score just after the first quarter.
Zander Fagerson forced a turnover on the floor and Scotland went from there. From a line-out, Finn Russell, standing flat to the advantage line, found Huw Jones, who sent Hogg away. The full-back dummied Rob Kearney to go over and Laidlaw made it 14-0 with the conversion.
Ireland responded and got reward for waves of pressure when Earls went over, but that only galvanised Scotland to get a third try. And it was a thing of wonder. A beautiful crossfield kick from Russell forced Simon Zebo into conceding the line-out.
The Scottish line-out then pulled the canniest trick in the book, front-loading it with three backs – Laidlaw, Tommy Seymour and Dunbar.
Ireland didn’t think for one second that Ross Ford’s throw was going to one of them, but it did. He threw it flat to Dunbar who, surreally, went through a gap to score.
Laidlaw’s conversion made it 21-5, Jackson’s penalty reducing the deficit to 21-8 just before the break.
Irish onslaught turns the tide
The second half was utterly extraordinary. Ireland mobilised their troops in a very major way. They owned the ball for vast sections of the half, Henderson scoring after monumental pressure finally broke through incredible Scottish resistance.
Ireland came again, with power and intent. Conor Murray broke free and linked with Jamie Heaslip but the outstanding Ryan Wilson, with help from a Sean Maitland interception, snuffed out the danger.
Next, Maitland’s tackle forced Kearney to put a foot in touch on the right wing, denying Earls a second try.
In the midst of the onslaught, Jonny Gray was a defensive rock. A total colossus. When Irishmen went down in the tackle it was normally Gray who put him there.
Not even Gray and his army of heavy-hitters could stop Ireland from scoring again, however. They were making yards and finding holes against a seemingly tiring Scotland and Jackson stretched to score and then converted his own try.