Ireland were crowned women's 6 Nations champions for 2015 after a crushing 73-3 win over Scotland - their biggest ever win in the international game and Scotland's biggest ever loss at home. (Image: Inpho)
It meant Ireland secured a second ever title and a Triple Crown with the Scots left to rue another Wooden Spoon and a very difficult end to a tournament within which they had begun to show improvements and promise.
This was all about Ireland though who led 37-3 at half-time after a start which saw captain Niamh Briggs over the try line in just four minutes. Ireland needed a 27-point winning margin to edge out the French and they set the tone early with the Briggs score, after some terrific link play between herself and winger Hannah Tyrell, who was forced off injured later in the half.
A stiff wind made it tough for both sides but with Sophie Spence and Jen Murphy punching holes, Briggs added another penalty as Ireland became dominant and despite a Scottish penalty through Nuala Deans, it was one way traffic for Ireland after that with Claire Molloy next to score after a superb driving maul by a well organised Irish pack.
Scotland managed to exert some rare pressure in the Irish 22, getting the nudge on at a scrum and with some strong running by Lisa Robinson and Tracy Balmer, before Ireland missed out on a try as flanker Paula Fitzpatrick, following a powerful burst by Spence, was held up.
However, try number three followed from the resulting five-metre scrum as the Irish pack drove in under the posts and number 8 Heather O'Brien, showing brilliant control at the base, dotted down for Briggs to convert, making it 20-3.
Ireland's greater strength and experience up front was evident again as Briggs punted a penalty into the left corner, Marie Louise Reilly won the lineout and the maul spun around the side with hooker Gillian Bourke crashing over. Briggs added the extras for a 24-point margin on the scoreboard.
Briggs tagged on three more points following a Rachael Cook infringement on the deck and the girls in green finished out the first half with another try, Ailis Egan carrying well before winger Miller collected a loose pass on the Scottish ten-metre line and embarked on a superb solo run, evaded four tacklers before sidestepping around full-back Chloe Rollie to finish by the posts. The extras were added by Briggs for 37-3.
Miller's pace proved too much for the Scottish defence again just two minutes after the break. Murphy hauled down the counter-attacking Rollie, Shiels won turnover ball and it was shipped wide to the left where lovely hands from Fitzpatrick and Molloy released the Laois woman for a neat finish.
Briggs drilled over the conversion but missed her next shot at the posts, as she soldiered on with a knee injury. The missed conversion came after a well-executed maul try by the increasingly influential Fitzpatrick, who crossed the whitewash for the third time in the tournament.
Spence was next to score and Briggs' successful kick made it 56-3.
Tom Tierney's team finished with a flourish as they confirmed themselves as the Championship's top points and try scorers (139 points and 20 tries). Replacement scrum half Tania Rosser made it over in the right corner, touching down off the platform of another well-set maul.
Briggs added the difficult conversion for good measure and there was still time for Miller to grab her hat-trick score, popping up twice on a thrilling break involving both backs and forwards.
The final scoring act came in the dying minutes - first phase ball from a scrum sent Murphy darting through a gap on the left and she used a trademark hand-off to finish with aplomb.
Scoring sequence - 4 min: N Briggs try, 5-0; 12 min: N Briggs pen, 8-0; 14 min: N Deans pen, 8-3; 17 min: C Molloy try, 13-3; 25 min: H O’Brien, 18-3; N Briggs con, 20-3; 30 min: G Bourke try, 25-3; N Briggs con, 27-3; 36 min: N Briggs pen, 30-3; 38 min: A Miller try, 35-3; N Briggs con, 37-3. Half-time 42 min: A Miller try, 42-3; N Briggs con, 44-3; 50 min: P Fitzpatrick try, 49-3; 62 min: S Spence try, 54-3; N Briggs con, 56-3; 76 min: T Rosser try, 61-3; N Briggs con, 63-3; 78 min: A Miller try, 68-3; J Murphy try, 73-3.
Ireland: N Briggs (capt); H Tyrrell, J Murphy, J Shiels, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; R O’Reilly, G Bourke, A Egan; S Spence, ML Reilly; P Fitzpatrick, C Molloy, H O’Brien. Replacements: A Doyle for H Tyrrell (20 min), F Hayes for R O’Reilly (52 min), T Rosser for L Muldoon, S Naoupu for J Shiels (both 57 min), O Fitzsimons for S Spence (67 min), K Norris for P Fitzpatrick (72 min), F O’Brien for A Egan, S Mimnagh for G Bourke (75 min).
Scotland: C Rollie; N Deans, G Inglis, H Smith, E Sinclair; L Martin, S Law; L Robertson, L Skeldon, T Balmer (capt); D McCormack, E Wassell; R Cook, K Dunbar, J Konkel. Replacements: L O’Donnell for R Cook (half-time), H Lockhart for for L Robertson (51 min), L Smith for L Skeldon, M Greene for S Law (both 55 min), C Bain for C Rollie (71 min).