Ruthless Ireland Ready To Slaughter Scots
Scotland v Ireland
Ireland travel to Murrayfield on Saturday where they face Scotland before the England game at 5pm which leaves their hopes of retaining the Six Nations title in limbo all day.
Scotland made a promising start to this year’s campaign, scoring the only try in a hard-fought game in Paris and grafting hard against a full-strength Wales side at Murrayfield. But they finished with nothing to show for their endeavours, and were then undone by a spirited Italian side before suffering yet another Calcutta Cup disappointment to leave them once again contemplating the wooden spoon.
Ireland produced a clean sweep in their autumn internationals and carried that form into the 6 Nations, overcoming a stubborn Italian defence in Rome, out-muscling France and taking England apart with a clinical display in Dublin. But with the Grand Slam at their mercy, they started sluggishly against Wales and despite some heroic efforts, they couldn’t breach the Welsh defence, leaving them with work to do to retain their 6 Nations title.
Scotland have suffered more than their share of injuries during this year’s tournament and their injury list has lengthened further. Matt Scott, Jim Hamilton, Tommy, Blair Cowan and Alasdair Dickinson all suffered knocks during the game against England and are uncertain starters this weekend.
Compared to previous campaigns, Ireland have had a lucky run with injuries in 2015 and despite their bruising encounter with Wales, they have a fully fit squad to pick from for their final game. The team has been criticised in some quarters for their tactics, but it is unlikely that coach Joe Schmidt will make big changes at this stage.
Scotland versus Ireland is one of the sport’s oldest fixtures, dating back to 1877. There have been 129 meetings between the two nations and Scotland hold the advantage, with 66 wins to Ireland’s 58.
Last year’s match was a one-sided affair in which Ireland restricted Scotland to a couple of penalties in a 28-6 victory, but despite that result, Scotland have a good recent record in this match. They’ve won four of their last nine encounters, including their last game at Murrayfield, in 2013, when the home side handed Ireland their second defeat of the campaign, thanks to four penalties from Greig Laidlaw.
Ireland are in the difficult position of having to play before England, and so won’t know exactly what they need to do to retain the 6 Nations title. They will also be aware of Scotland’s good recent record in this fixture and of the dangers inherent in underestimating a Scottish side desperate to finish the tournament with a victory.
But solid preparation and meticulous planning has been the hallmark of the Schmidt era and we can be confident that Ireland will go about their business with ruthless efficiency.
Whether they retain their title is not in their hands, but they will surely be able to cover a nine point handicap in this game. Back Ireland -9 at 10/11 in the Match Handicap market.