Ireland put one hand on the Six Nations Championship as they beat a woeful Scotland side 10-40 at Murray Field.
Ireland had seen Wales dismantle Italy 20-61 and knew they needed a big points win to close the gap at the top of the table and set a target for England to beat against France in the 5pm kick-off.
Tries in the first half from Paul O'Connell and Sean O'Brien, a couple of conversions and a penalty by Jonathon Sexton produced an early lead for Ireland, only for Scotland to answer back with a try from Finn Russell, along with a penalty and conversion by Greig Laidlaw to make the half time score 10-20 and everything to play for.
Scotland's hopes disappear
All hopes for Scotland then disappeared in the second half as Ireland increased their points tally.
The second half started with Ireland on the front-foot, as in the first, with Ireland opening up a ten point lead again with Jared Payne claiming a try as he spotted some space and ran straight through a hole in the Scotland defence to slide in directly under the posts.
Ireland pull away
Ireland were given a penalty just after 50 minutes, however Sexton missed the opportunity to increase Ireland's points difference as the ball clattered against the post from what appeared to be an easy enough angle.
Geoff Cross saw a yellow card and got sent to the sin bin, leaving Scotland a man light against a rampant Ireland.
Sexton missed again minutes later as he kicked wide from 40 metres out.
Sexton got his kicking boots back past the hour mark, as he converted a penalty to make the score 10-33 to Ireland and put them clear of Wales in the race for the Six Nations championship.
Cross re-joined the action for Scotland with Ireland in the ascendency and Sexton making several successful kicks into touch, pinning the Scots in their own half.
O'Brien got his second try of the afternoon following another strong assault on the Scotland backline with just eight minutes remaining and leaving Scotland with no way back with the score at 10-40.
Stuart Hogg had a try ruled out when a brilliant tackle by Jamie Heaslip prevented Hogg from getting the ball down, causing a knock-on and giving Ireland a scrum five metres from their own try line.
The game finished with Ireland awaiting the result from Twickenham and England now needing to beat France by at least 26 points.
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