Ireland and Scotland will square off at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, in Round 4 of the 2018 Six Nations, and this should be a cracker of a game with both teams still having a chance to win the whole thing – although Scotland`s chances at the title are mostly theoretical.
The Irish are the only undefeated side left in the tournament, and they deserve their 3-0-0 record – as they have been very solid in the previous rounds. They started off with a narrow win in France, a game in which they showed a lot of character, followed that with a destruction of Italy, and finally defeated a strong and in form Welsh team 37-27 in their previous game two weeks ago. Ireland will be hoping for another win today, which would allow them to go undefeated to England in the last round of the competition.
Scotland was shocked by Wales in the opening round, losing by no less than 27 points, and the Scots weren`t very impressive in their next match either, struggling to escape with a 6 point home win over France. However, Scotland showed its true colors in their previous game, claiming a long overdue and superb win over arch rivals England, 25-13 in Edinburgh. That result and performance will surely give them a ton of confidence coming into this clash, but the Scots will be aware that they have not been playing at the same level away from home as they have been at home – and that needs to change if they are to challenge Ireland.Bet on Ireland vs. Scotland and claim your 100% (100 Eur) freebet at Ohmbet now!
Team news & lineups:
Furlong and Ringrose return for Ireland, and will be the only two changes to the lineup that beat Wales. Scotland continues to struggle with injuries, and now Tommy Seymour is out as well. He is the only new absentee for Scotland, who will make one change to the lineup that beat England.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 James Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Blair Kinghorn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay (c), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Gordon Reid
Scotland looked really good last week against England and it was just another example of how solid this team is. Now they are in with a chance to win the whole thing despite their poor start to the Six Nations, but they need a win in Dublin to keep those (slim) chances alive.
Unfortunately for the Scots they just haven`t found a way to perform at the same level both home and away over the past years. Brilliant home performances were often followed by poor displays on the road. Scotland has won just two away matches in the Six Nations since 2011 onwards and both of those were against Italy!
The Scots also suffered some humiliating losses away from home in the tournament, the most recent ones being a 40 point loss in England last year and the 27 point loss in Wales this year.
It`s obvious that Scotland`s road woes are not just coincidental, and they really need to fix some things if they are to take themselves at the next level. They could well do it at some point (they won in Australia last year in June), but doing it against one of the Top 3 teams in the World, Ireland, seems like an almost impossible task.
The plethora of injuries Scotland has could also prove to be a problem against a healthier Irish team, especially now that Seymour is out as well. Scotland played well in many games despite all their long term injuries, including two weeks ago against England, but their depleted bench could prove to be a bigger problem on the road than at home. The Irish definitely have more quality set to come in after the hour mark.
Ireland will know that a win today would put them in a great position to win the title, and if they can somehow get a bonus point as well, that would be huge. As such, expect the hosts to come out with intensity and fight for the entire 80 minutes to try and score tries.
Expect a good game with Ireland in control, the hosts should be able to hold their own in the wide game, while controlling the forwards battle and denying Scotland quick ball in the rucks.
Ireland seems unbeatable at home, and should have enough to win this by 15 or so points – maybe more if Scotland has a traditional road letdown. My tip is Ireland to cover the 9.5 point handicap and I will stake 8 units, which I think is in accordance with my analysis. Prediction: Ireland – Scotland 34 – 18.