Rugby Union: Ireland Looking For A Favour

The power of Irish rugby, not least by Ireland’s forwards, was fully on display at Twickenham and while England did disrupt their opponents for a period, you’d expect Andy Farrell’s team to follow their wins against Wales (29-7) Italy (57-6) and England (32-15) by beating Scotland-again- at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.

Second in the table with only one defeat – in Paris by 30-24 – Ireland may not have been at their best at Twickenham, but they still scored four tries, bringing to 20 the number of times they’ve touched down in the Six Nations, the most by any team.

As the highest try scorers in the tournament, Ireland should be too strong for Scotland who’ve recorded few victories against this weekend’s opponents – indeed, the Scots have beaten the Irish only on four occasions since 2000 – in 2001, 2010, 2013 and 2017.

So, Scotland have several mountains to climb if they are to achieve a huge upset against the most accomplished Irish squad for several seasons, in fact, Ireland going into this Saturday’s match have been successful in 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 and on current form, Ireland are by a long way favourites to continue this excellent spell against the Scots.

Farrell and skipper and fly half, Johnny Sexton, will be determined that with the advantage of playing at home in Dublin any errors that occurred against England will be kept to a bare minimum, and that the attacking mindset will produce the fluency that has delighted spectators this campaign.

With so many talented stars in the backs..Hugo Keenan, James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park, to name only a few, Ireland have the potential to finish promising attacks which is why Scotland’s defence, not that long ago one of the best in world rugby, must improve.

Scotland’s defence must improve if they’re to cause an upset

The Scots, predictably beat Italy 33-22 in Rome, but the standards were not as high as coach Gregor Townsend has come to expect.

In this competition, it’s been worked out that Scotland have been missing 17 tackles per game – they won’t beat Ireland if that weakness persists.

Scotland have also been giving away far too many penalties..46 in total..which is the worst record currently in this year’s Six Nations.

With players of the class of Hamish Watson, George Turner, Darcy Graham and Chris Harris, combined with the genuine international quality of Stuart Hogg, Ali Price and Finn Russell, Scotland can be dangerous going forward, and they’ll be hoping that fly half Russell, who’s not been in top form, can once again deliver the cutting edge which slices open defences.

Common sense tells you that Ireland’s forwards with the calibre of Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson and Caelan Dorris, will be too strong for Scotland who will do well to earn themselves a losing bonus point.

The atmosphere in Dublin will be electric, the Aviva Stadium will be packed solid with more than 50,000 fans and you think the favourites will win comfortably – current form and recent history tells us so.

Of the 138 Tests between Ireland and Scotland, Ireland have won 67 and the Scots 66 and five have been drawn – but since the Six Nations was expanded in 2000, Ireland have been and are the much more powerful rugby nation, and with the contemporary success of Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connacht, Ireland’s international reputation grows and grows, so put your money on them to win.

Squad Update

As Ireland and Scotland prepare for their final game in this year’s Six Nations in Dublin where an Irish win would give them the title, providing England beat France in Paris, Scotland have added to their squad.

Four players have been brought in by coach Gregor Townsen – three forwards – hooker Fraser Brown from Glasgow Warriors, prop Murphy Walker also from Glasgow, and second row Scott Cummings, who plays alongside them at the same club.

Townsend has also called up a Scotland Sevens star, winger Jordan Edmunds.

As regards Ireland, second in the table with three wins from four games, they’ll be strong favourites to win with home advantage at the Aviva Stadium.

Coach Andy Farrell has still to name his starting 15, but it seems more than probable that lock Iain Henderson, who replaced James Ryan after just 83 seconds at Twickenham, will keep his place and join Tadhg Beirne in the second row.

Skipper and fly half, Johnny Sexton, will earn his 104th cap for Ireland for whom he has scored 975 points.

Expect Sexton to make another strong contribution to Ireland, not least with his place kicking, and with Scotland conceding penalties more than they’ve done in the past, the Irish number 10 from Leinster, one of the most accurate goal kickers in world rugby, will relish the occasion.