Kick-off: 14.15 GMT, Saturday February 9
A wounded Ireland team head to Murrayfield on Saturday with their pride hurt and championship credentials badly damaged following a devastating 32-20 defeat to England in Dublin on opening weekend.
The defending Grand Slam champions and tournament favourites, ranked second in the world after a stunning 2018, saw their formidable home winning streak busted in convincing fashion as they wilted in the face of their rivals’ sheer intensity and physicality at the Aviva Stadium.
A late John Cooney try made the scoreline more respectable, but in truth Ireland were worryingly flat and second best in almost every department.
Joe Schmidt’s side travel to Murrayfield next, annoyed not to have successfully shed that reputation as slow starters and will be eager to take their frustration out on a Scotland team whom they will also face at the World Cup in Yokohama in September.
The Scots took a while to get going against tournament whipping boys Italy last time out, but a hat-trick from Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn – deputising for injured wing Sean Maitland – plus further efforts from the irrepressible Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris and a superb Finn Russell display secured a winning bonus point.
Of big concern to coach Gregor Townsend will be the match’s final quarter, in which Italy took full advantage of Simon Berghan’s yellow card and ran in three late tries despite rarely threatening before that.
For all the talk of an increased selection pool that comes as a result of Edinburgh and Glasgow’s impressive performances both in Europe and the Pro14, bench depth remains a key worry amid a slew of injuries and Scotland have to maintain better levels of concentration throughout the full 80 minutes.
Team news and line-ups
Sam Skinner tried to play on after rolling his ankle in the very early stages against Italy, but was eventually replaced by Josh Strauss as Scotland’s back-row injuries continue to bite.
Tighthead prop WP Nel was suffering from a calf issue, while the potential return of Maitland – along with Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray and Peter Horne – could leave Townsend with a very tough decision to make following Kinghorn’s treble, which was a first for Scotland in the Five/Six Nations for 30 years.
Ireland, meanwhile, were involved in a brutal contest against England and Schmidt revealed afterwards that Keith Earls had sustained a hip issue after some rough treatment from Maro Itoje and Tom Curry in particular. He was replaced by Jordan Larmour at half-time.
CJ Stander is said to have played for 62 minutes with two fractures to his cheek and eye socket, while lock Devin Toner hurt his ankle and will need to be assessed.
Scotland XV: TBC
Ireland XV: TBC
Score prediction: Scotland 22-35 Ireland
A wounded Ireland team under Schmidt feels like a very dangerous proposition indeed and if Italy can exploit Scotland’s lapses in concentration, then the men in green certainly can.
Two defeats in a row to begin the Six Nations in a World Cup year feels unthinkable for this Ireland setup and memories of their last trip to Murrayfield should provide further fuel for success.
Betting tips via Betfair | UK users only | Subject to change
- Scotland to win: 2/1
- Draw: 22/1
- Ireland to win: 4/9
Click here to find the latest match odds and place a bet.
TV channel and live stream, and online coverage
ITV and the BBC are sharing broadcasting rights for the Six Nations for the third successive year, with the BBC hosting Scotland vs Ireland on BBC One and via the iPlayer.
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