Six Nations 2019: Ireland 'muscled through' Scotland win

Media playback is not supported on this device

Six Nations: Scotland 13-22 Ireland highlights

Head coach Joe Schmidt says Ireland have to improve despite getting their Six Nations title defence back on track with a dogged victory over Scotland.

A second-half try by Keith Earls saw the Grand Slam champions escape from Edinburgh with a crucial 22-13 win.

Conor Murray and Jacob Stockdale also scored as Ireland survived a first-half onslaught to rebound from their heavy opening-round loss against England.

"We just muscled our way through it to be honest," said a relieved Schmidt.

"It wasn't the prettiest game, we got a peach of a set-piece try and we got a couple of broken-field running tries and I think we restricted them to an intercept try so from that perspective (it's positive)."

Scotland dominated the opening half at Murrayfield but Gregor Townsend's side were unable to convert their pressure into points as Murray pounced on a mix-up between Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland to cross for the opening try. Stockdale then scored a superb training-ground move to push the visitors into a first-quarter lead.

The home side fought back to within two points through Sam Johnson's score after Finn Russell intercepted a Joey Carbery pass but Scotland failed to profit from a sustained spell of pressure at the end of the opening half when the Irish defence repelled 25 phases before a knock-on allowed them to lift the siege.

Schmidt added: "In that first half, we were in our 22 for 34% of the time and in our half for about 72% of the time so that was a massive defensive effort and even the intercept was on our advantage so we went to sleep a little bit there and we've got to be better than that."

England defeat demanded a 'physical reaction'

The humbling defeat to England was Ireland's first Six Nations loss in Dublin since 2013 and Schmidt issued a robust defence of his team's style of play as the world number two side found themselves under pressure to produce a response on the field.

A poor first-half performance at Murrayfield eventually gave way to an improved display by the champions after the break as they held Scotland at arm's length.

Media playback is not supported on this device

'We muscled our way to victory' - Schmitt on Ireland win over Scotland

"We have a lot of belief in what we're doing and how good a team we are," insisted Ireland captain Rory Best.

"That was a really tough game and it was also tough mentally in the build-up to it, but we asked for a physical reaction that we probably didn't get last week and by and large we got that.

"It maybe wasn't the most spectacular game of rugby that was ever played but it was two teams that went hard at each other and we're very grateful to win."

In a game of tight margins, the Ulster hooker said his team's ability to convert their opportunities was vital: "We had a couple of chances and we took them and we were quite clinical when we had the ball.

"We've obviously got a lot of improving to do as well but we had to wear them down, they're well-organised in defence and we knew they would be very dangerous in attack, and by and large we fronted up to our task as we had to."

Ireland will travel to Rome to play Italy in round three on 24 February.