6N:2011: Scotland v Ireland match preview

25 02 2011

Ireland:
Tommy Bowe played a full 80 minutes for the Ospreys last weekend and he returns to the Irish team this weekend, winger Fergus McFadden makes way in the match day 22 for Bowe. Munster’s Ronan O’Gara comes in for Johnny Sexton and is partnered by Eoin Reddan with Peter Stringer on the bench. The rest of the team is unchanged from the team that was defeated narrowly by France in their last game. The introduction of Ronan O’Gara signals that the game plan this weekend may be more of a kicking game than we have seen in the last two games. Ireland will be challenged strongly in the lineout against Scotland’s giant locks Richie Gray and Ali Kellock (6’9″ and 6’8″ respectively)

Scotland:
Quite a shuffle in the Scottish team from their defeat to Wales a fortnight ago. Veteran Chris Paterson comes in to replace injured fullback Hugo Southwell while Sean Lamont has been drafted into midfield following the withdrawal of Joe Ansbro. Mike Blair joins inexperienced Ruaridh Jackson in the halfbacks, lock Richie Gray is fit meaning a drop to the bench for Leinster’s Nathan Hines. Scottish prop Euan Murray will not be playing on Sunday due to his religious beliefs and his place is taken by Moray Low.

What to expect:
As previously mentioned, Ireland look like they will play a tactical kicking game, this will put serious focus on their lineout. With Scotland’s two locks likely to dominate the middle of the lineout, Ireland may well look to the back of the lineout and bring Jamie Heaslip into play more than they previously have. The return of Tommy Bowe in the backs will give more options in attack. Ireland have a score to settle from their defeat at Scotland’s hands last season in Croke Park which denied them their fifth Triple Crown in seven years.

All eyes on:
Ireland out half Ronan O’Gara starts this week ahead of Jonny Sexton who produced two almost faultless displays in the opening two games. Going into the World Cup I don’t believe there will be a ‘preferred’ 10, seems that Kidney will chose to start Sexton or O’Gara depending on the type of game plan in place. O’Gara will make his 107th cap for Ireland and has a chance this weekend of breaking the 1000 point barrier in the World Rugby All-Time Top Points Scorers, he currently is on 987 points. He would be only the 5th player in the world to score more than 1000 points in test-rugby, joining rugby legends Dominguez, Jenkins, Wilkinson and Carter.

Scotland’s out half Ruaridh Jackson who last week turned 23, replaces Dan Parks at out-half. Jackson, who has been putting in some quality performances for Glasgow in the Magners League and Heineken Cup, earns his 4th cap for Scotland. Would expect veteran Chris Paterson to take over kicking duties on Sunday to relieve some pressure from Jackson.

Head to head – The battle of the back-rows:
The ‘Killer-Bs’ back-row of Kelly Brown, John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie has united for the first time this season, they face off against a strong Irish backrow of Sean O’Brien, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip. The Scottish trio cause all sorts of problems for Ireland last season, All three combined in Croke Park to send Johnnie Beattie crashing over for a first half try. With Stephen Ferris ruled out of the remainder of Ireland’s 6-Nations games Sean O’Brien has a guilt-edged chance to play himself in to the first XV for the World Cup.

Last year’s result: Ireland 20-23 Scotland (Dublin)

Weather: Scattered cloud, chance of drizzle, fresh westerly wind.

Prediction:
Ireland have been making continuous improvement during the tournament so far, their discipline on Sunday is key, this match has all the hallmarks of a kick-fest and the Irish defense will have to be on their best behavior for Ireland to win. Scotland are hampered by injury and struggling for any consistency in this years 6-Nations. Ireland by 5 points.

Ireland:
L Fitzgerald (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D’Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster); R O’Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster), S O’Brien (Leinster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster)
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Court (Ulster), L Cullen (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), P Wallace (Ulster)

Scotland:
C Paterson (Edinburgh); N Walker (Ospreys), N De Luca (Edinburgh), S Lamont (Scarlets), M Evans (Glasgow); R Jackson (Glasgow), M Blair (Edinburgh); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), M Low (Glasgow), R Gray (Glasgow), A Kellock (Glasgow), K Brown (Saracens), J Barclay (Glasgow), J Beattie (Glasgow)
Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), G Cross (Edinburgh), N Hines (Leinster), R Vernon (Glasgow), R Lawson (Gloucester), D Parks (Cardiff Blues, S Danielli (Ulster)

Referee: Nigel Owen (WRU)

article originally written for therugbyblog.co.uk

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25 02 2011
Kentura » Ireland

[…] 6N:2011: Scotland v Ireland match preview « ninetyninecall – rugby […]

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