IT was a dangerous thought, but it must have entered Greg Laidlaw's head for at least a second. Here Scotland were, with the clock touching 79 minutes, standing over a penalty deep in Ireland territory. Already 24-22 to the good, and both teams having scored three tries apiece, he knew that taking their try tally to four would have seen them win a bonus point, and deprive Ireland of the one they receive for a losing margin of seven or less.

If there was hesitation in the scrum-half's thought processes as he weighed up the risk and potential reward, he must have thought better of it soon enough. Having been pipped at the post so frequently in the frantic final stages of big matches - most notably the infamous World Cup quarter- final against Australia - is it any wonder that the little scrum half and skipper sagely let the clock tick down before sending one final kick between his points between the posts with his usual precision?

Win the match and move on. Scotland go to Paris next week with old fashioned opening day Six Nations victory since 2006. That will be bonus enough.

After a protracted arrival in the Scottish game, as he was unable to negotiated his release from Clermont Auvergne, this was the first match of Vern Cotter's long goodbye as Scotland head coach, before he returns to French club rugby with Montpellier. Ireland arrived fresh from their first victory against the All Blacks in 111 years of trying last November, but it was Cotter who revelled in finally getting the last laugh over his pal Joe Schmidt, the improvements he has wrought on this Scotland team during his tenure there for all to see.

There can be a danger in hanging around as a coach or manager when you have already announced your departure. Ask Walter Smith, whose Rangers team's quest for 10-in-a-row exploded under those circumstances, about that. But it can go the other way too, with players keen to deliver one last success for a coach who has earned their respect. And all in all, this wasn't a bad way for the taciturn Cotter to start his farewell tour. It built upon the wave of positive momentum around the sport in this country on the back of the exploits of Glasgow and Edinburgh in European club competition this year.

Stuart Hogg is a distant relative of George Best and the family resemblance has rarely been clearer. Last year's player of this tournament, Hogg points his fingers heavenward in a 'W' shape after every try. The gesture is a silent tribute to his friend, and former Hawick Wanderers team-mate Richard Wilkinson, who was killed in a car crash as the pair shared a lift home from training one day. Hogg - seated in the back - smashed a window and climbed out of the mangled vehicle.

A further two such tributes took place yesterday as Hogg - a man who played in a Lions tour at the age of just 20 - put another marker down in front of watching Lions coach Warren Gatland by becoming Scotland's all time top Six Nations try scorer. Also touching down in Cotter's first match in charge, a 24-6 win against the USA in Houston, he was the main beneficiary of a Scotland back division which now looks pleasingly capable of racking up bonus points.

The Scots were camped on the Ireland line when he tamed a bouncing long pass from Finn Russell and scurried over in the corner to give them a flying start to this year's Championships and doubled his tally after an outrageous dummied pass to Maitland. There was hysteria in this place when a third home try arrived before half time, Alex Dunbar sneaking in amongst the giants of the line-out to claim an opportunist score.

Everything had worked a treat for Scotland in that first half - even if the scrum was creaking badly and Keith Earls had touched down for Ireland - but the visitors fairly turned the screw after the interval. The Scots were missing tackles now, and two Ulstermen, Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson capitalised on openings to give them the lead at 22-21. The roof might have caved in had Sean Maitland not made try-saving interventions to defy breaks from Jamie Heaslip and then Rob Kearney.

The match was up for grabs as we entered a fraught last ten minutes. In the past, Scotland might have waited for Ireland to take it. But now they have the discipline and knowhow to claim it for themselves.