ALL that time spent during the week calculating the weird and wonderful score-line permutations required for Scotland to progress to the quarter-finals of this World Cup at the expense of Ireland, or indeed South Africa, was quickly shown to be an absolute waste of time in this one-sided encounter.

A masterclass of power, precision, discipline and all-round rugby intelligence from the number one ranked team in the world had Gregor Townsend’s side reeling from the second minute, and Ireland had that crucial four-try bonus point in the bag by the break.

At this point, Scotland not only needed to battle back from 26-0 down, scoring 31 unanswered points in order to progress out of Pool B. In reality, the challenge facing them now was to make sure that this did not turn into an embarrassing massacre which would decimate team morale going forward and inflict untold damage on the reputation of the game back home. They just about managed that.

It took all of one minute and two seconds for Ireland to lay down their marker with Garry Ringrose sweeping left, past the leaden-footed Grant Gilchrist and feeding Mack Hansen, who provided the link to send James Lowe over in the corner. The huge Ireland support broke into a chorus of ‘ole, ole, ole’ as Johnny Sexton lined up the conversion which he missed, although that came as scant consolation.

Scotland rallied, and Duhan van der Merwe was typically hard to put down when he got his hands on the ball on the right touchline, but there was no way through the green wall and was penalised for holding on.

The loss of Blair Kinghorn with a head injury on eight minutes was another setback Scotland could really have done without, especially as Townsend had gone for a six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench.

Scotland kept plugging away, kicking a scrum penalty towards the corner, losing the line-out to a superhuman jump by Pater O’Mahony against Richie Gray, but scrambling another throw and then spreading right for Darcy Graham’s first sniff, and a penalty against Lowe for going off his feet.

Again Scotland again went for touch, prompting a remarkable passage of play on Ireland’s 22 with the ball being kept alive through over 20 phases was exhausting to just win, but they were continually knocked back on the gain-line and eventually conceded a ruck penalty, which quickly turned into a scrum penalty. 

Scotland were left incensed when the big screen showed that Hugo Keenan’s foot had slipped into touch as he collected a Russell clearance on his own 22 but had played on. Challenged on the matter, referee Nic Berry and the TMO assert that the Irish full-back’s boot did not touch the line itself.

The sense of injustice was heightened by the fact that Lowe launched an excellent 50/22 straight after that, providing the platform to have a charge at the line and it took some desperate cover defence to prevent Hansen from scoring Ireland’s second.

There was more turmoil for Scotland when skipper Jamie Ritchie had to be replaced by Matt Fagerson on 18 minutes nursing what appeared to be a chest or shoulder injury.

Ireland struck again on 25 minutes, sending the ball left off a line-out on halfway and picking their way through Scotland’s slightly tentative defence with some intricate passing to send Keenan over, and this time Sexton nailed the conversion. 

Iain Henderson muscled his way over for try number three after a sustained onslaught from the Irish pack with eight minutes still to play in the half and it was now a battle for Scotland to keep is respectable.

They couldn’t hold on, though, and Keenan rode two tackles as he slid over the line for his second and his team’s bonus-point try 20 seconds before the break.

Tempers fizzed at the start of the second half, with almost all 30 players involved in a prolonged bout of shoving and pulling at shirts. Pierre Schoeman and Dan Sheehan even ended up on the wrong side of an advertising boarding before decorum was restored and a TMO replay revealed that Ollie Smith had tripped Sexton off the ball.

The Scots replacement was yellow-carded and Ireland streaked downfield for Dan Sheehan to score his team’s fifth try.  Sexton missed the tricky conversion from the left touchline and was promptly replaced with 36 minutes still to go. No need now for Ireland to risk injury to their commander-in-chief.

Three minutes later, Tadhg Furlong, Sheehan, Andrew Porter, Henderson, O’Mahony and Jamison Gibson-Park followed their captain off the park, to raucous acclimation from their triumphant fans. Ireland had moved on to next weekend’s quarter-final against New Zealand.

Not that this stopped Ireland’s progress in this match, with Jack Crowley's excellent cross-kick sending Ringrose over for yet another try – their sixth to make it 36-0 – with the game still two minutes shy of the hour mark.

Shellshocked Scotland looked like they wanted the Stade de France to open up and swallow them whole. Passes were falling in front of players who had stopped running onto the ball, easy catches were being fumbled.

It was painful to watch until the Scotys recovered some sense of ownership of their performance and struck back with two quick-fire tries, the first scored by replacement hooker Ewan Ashman escaped down the right following some decent build-up play from Jack Dempsey and Sione Tuipulotu, the second by replacement scrum-half Ali Price after Huw Jones and Smith had run back the restart with menace.

At least that added some sort of respectability to the scoreboard and meant that Scotland avoided what had looked like being a record defeat in this fixture, although this won’t come as much consolation to Townsend and his team as they return home with tail between legs. 

This was a painful lesson in how far Scottish rugby – which used to be on a par if not slightly ahead of Ireland – has been left behind during the last 10 to 15 years.

It would be easy to blame the individuals directly involved in the setback, but a wider and deeper review of how the Scottish Rugby Union is failing to keep pace with its Celtic cousins is required.

Teams –

Ireland: H Keenan; M Hansen (S McCloskey 21), G Ringrose, B Aki, J Lowe; J Sexton (J Crowley 44), J Gibson-Park (C Murray 48); A Porter (D Kilcoyne 48), D Sheehan (R Kelleher, 48), T Furlong (F Bealham 48), T Beirne, I Henderson ( J Ryan 48), P O’Mahony (J Conan 48), J van der Flier, C Doris.

Scotland: B Kinghorn (O Smith 8); D Graham (G Horne 49), H Jones, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell, A Price; P Schoeman (R Sutherland 52), G Turner (E Ashman 59), Z Fagerson (W Nel 59), R Gray, G Gilchrist (S Cummings, 47), J Ritchie (M Fagerson 18), R Darge ( L Crosbie 64), J Dempsey.

Referee:  Nic Berry (Australia)

Scorers –

Ireland: Tries: Lowe, Keenan 2, Henderson, Sheehan, Ringrose; Cons: Sexton 3.

Scotland: Tries: Ashman, Price; Con: Russell 2.

Yellow cards –

Scotland: Smith (41mins)

Attendance: 78,459