Johnny Sexton suffered a head injury leaving Joey Carbery to run the game for nearly an hour: the Munster star threw an intercept pass for Sam Johnson's try for Scotland, but conjured the winning score for Earls.
They restricted Scotland to an interception try and conjured two of their own, the second coming from Schmidt's set-piece playbook that saw Jonathan Sexton, in virtually the fly-half's final act before leaving the field with ankle and head injuries, committing the defence and freeing the wing Jacob Stockdale on halfway.
Scotland finally forced some possession in the Irish 22 but Ireland willingly surrendered a soft penalty, and Laidlaw brought Scotland back to six points behind. Cotter made Scotland tougher and took them from 10th in the world to fifth, while Townsend has developed a more adventurous, high-tempo passing style of play. 'If we were able to replicate it in the second, I think we'd be here with a win.' Laidlaw, meanwhile, was critical of referee Poite, citing one instance of particular injustice as far as the Scotland captain was concerned. It's not anger, it's 'Why did we have such a good first half and then we didn't play the same way in the second?
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"Johnny Sexton got a bit of treatment out there and he got a stamp on the head but he is feeling better and we expect him to be back in the next couple of weeks", Schmidt said.
"But we don't strive for alright, we want to be the best we can be and last week wasn't that".
BOD reiterated what needs to occur in Sexton's mindset and game preparation if Ireland are to keep hold of their talisman for a longer time.
"I thought one of two decisions didn't go Scotland's way that could've, but at this level you rely on your performance". 'We talk about Test matches turning on small points and, again, that just allowed the pressure valve to be released. 'He's sore, very sore, ' said Townsend. 'We'll see what will happen over the next few days.
"But if we hadn't won this game, we were definitely out of it".