Ireland out to heap woe on Scots
March 9, 2012
Hooker Rory Best is set to lead Ireland for the their time against the Scots on Saturday © Getty Images
Ireland will attempts to add some further gloss to their Six Nations campaign with the visit of Scotland on Saturday.
The hosts enter the clash on the back of an eye-catching display against France in Paris that promised much but ended in a 17-all draw. That result, which followed a narrow defeat to Wales and a largely unconvincing victory over Italy, kept their feint title hopes alive although they may have vanished altogether come kick off at the Aviva Stadium if Wales are victorious over the Italians in the day's first game.
Scotland enter this clash reeling from three straight defeats that seemingly leave them on course for a Wooden Spoon decider with Italy on the final weekend of the Championship. A brave yet fruitless performance at home to England set the tone with further losses to Wales and then France increasing the pressure on coach Andy Robinson who can lay claim to just two wins from his 13 Six Nations fixtures in charge.
Ireland - Player to Watch: Winger Tommy Bowe is on fire at present with five tries in Ireland's opening three games - will he add to that tally against the Scots?
Ireland - Team News: The draw with France took its toll with captain and lock Paul O'Connell, scrum-half Conor Murray and flanker Sean O'Brien all ruled out through injury. In come Donnacha Ryan, Eoin Reddan and Peter O'Mahony respectively. The changes also see Mike McCarthy, Tomas O'Leary and Shane Jennings drafted onto the replacement bench. Jonathan Sexton will once again pull the strings at fly-half with hooker Rory Best set to captain his country for the third time.
Scotland - Player to Watch: Fullback Stuart Hogg announced himself as a special talent against France last time out - can he back that up with another eye-catching display?
Scotland - Team News: Scotland have made one change to their starting line up. Nick de Luca comes in to the XV with Sean Lamont switching to the wing in place of his injured brother Rory. They have also opted to shuffle their options on the bench with Euan Murray, Ruaridh Jackson and Max Evans promoted in the place of Ed Kalman, Duncan Weir and De Luca respectively.
Key Battle: Ireland's back-row rediscovered their collective bite against France last time out but stripped of openside Sean O'Brien, will they be able to hold their own against the Scottish counterparts who also more than held their own against the French.
Trivia: Scotland have made more metres, carries and clean breaks than any other team in this year's competition.
Stats: Ireland's 6-10 defeat to Scotland in August marked the first time since 1994 that they had failed to score 10 points against Scotland.
"The boys don't really need to be told what to do. They need to see you doing it and then they'll just weigh in behind you."
"This weekend the breakdown is going to be huge and we've got to be able to deal with their 'choke tackle' and the referee is going to have to be able to deal with it as well."
Prediction: Ireland rediscovered their best form against France but that performance came at a significant cost. However, they should still have enough in the tank to account for the Scots.
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