Scotland’s World Cup campaign had got off to a disastrous start. Losing to Ireland without so much as a bonus point is not the issue, the completely listless performance of Gregor Townsend’s team in a match they have been building up to for three months is the major concern. Ireland asserted their superiority in every facet of the game when helping themselves to three tries inside the first 25 minutes – all scored by tight-five forwards – while the solitary first half penalty from Greig Laidlaw was more than Scotland deserved.

The weather deteriorated at half-time when Typhoon Tapah swept over the stadium, and Scotland actually fared better when they moved away from the fast game-plan they favour to a more regimented tight approach, but they didn’t ever have Ireland really under pressure. A fourth try from the men in green secured the bonus point and gave the scoreboard a suitably lop-sided complexion to accurately reflect the nature of this match.

There had been a lot of chat during the build-up about how well-prepared Scotland felt. After a disappointing defeat away to France in the first to their four-match schedule of pre-tournament friendlies, they had started to build cohesion during the subsequent three outings, and Townsend had claimed last week that the team had trained the best he had ever seen them.

It took six minutes for that positivity to be severely dented, when Iain Henderson burst onto a pop from the base of a ruck and swept past some pedestrian defending. Stuart Hogg managed to down the marauding Irishman, but a few phases later James Ryan scrambled over from close range, and Johnny Sexton fired home the conversion.

The pre-match positivity took another blow eight minutes later when Sexton kicked a penalty to the corner, and the Irish pack powered the line-out drive over the line for Rory Best to get the ball down. A replay of the try on the big screen suggested that the Irish captain may have been prevented from exerting downward pressure by opposite number Stuart McInally, but referee Wayne Barnes insisted that the TMO had checked the footage and ruled that everything was in order for the score.

The final nail in the coffin for Scotland came in the 24th minute. Scotland had got off the mark through Laidlaw’s trusty right boot, after slick hands in midfield created space for Tommy Seymour to make good ground up the right touchline, but then an elaborate midfield move from another promising attacking position floundered and Ireland hacked ahead. Stuart Hogg got back first but the ball rebounded off the post and the Scotsman ended up being bundled back over his own line to concede a scrum-five. Irish No 8 CJ Stander had a massive carry off the base and Tadhg Furlong powered over a few phases later. 

It went from bad to worse for Scotland just before half-time when Hamish Watson injured his knee and had to be carted from the field in obvious pain. The Scotland management team were awaiting a scan on the joint last night. His departure from the match was not a big issue because the game was already gone by this point, but it will be a significant set-back if the openside flanker is not now available for the must-win matches against Samoa a week today and Japan on 13th October.

It looked like Ireland might streak further ahead at the start of the second half when they stole yet another ruck, but Andrew Conway couldn’t quite get his hand to the kicked-through ball as it bounced over the dead-ball line.

It took until the 56th minute before Ireland struck again to secure that bonus-point try, and this score epitomised the difference between the two teams. Conway pressurised Ryan Wilson as he tried to collect Murray’s towering box-kick, Jordan Lamour picked up the loose ball, and Murray sent the persistent Conway jinking home.

Jack Carty, on for Sexton, finished off the scoring when he knocked over an offside penalty after Ireland had once again made good ground from first phase scrum ball, before Scotland tried desperately to salvage some pride during the final quarter – but they had neither the oomph or the guile to turn possession into points.

Ireland’s unyielding competitiveness was demonstrated when Tadhg Beirne sacrificed himself to a yellow card on 64 minutes for killing the ball after a rare moment of Scottish lucidity saw replacement centre Chris Harris thread Hogg through a gap. Scotland kicked hat penalty to the corner but were then manhandled backwards and ended up conceding a penalty, which just about summed up the team in blue's day.

The big question now from a Scottish perspective is: how will Gregor Townsend’s team recover from this physical and psychological battering before taking on Samoa? What happened here will have shaken them to their core and there is now a very real danger that this World Cup campaign could unravel. A big week lies in store.