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We are on the run in to the finish of the 6 Nations 2018. As we stand, Ireland are in the driving seat with the Scots coming to Dublin this weekend followed by a St Patrick's day match against the old enemy. I would like to be more mature than that when it comes to England, but I am not.
Scotland arrives after a defeat of England that was near decades in coming that was unexpected and was far more confident than even they could expect. Scotland has been on an upward trajectory since last November began their project to RWC 2019. Their style became more exciting to watch and the results began to improve. They will arrive in Dublin with confidence and knowing that while the result is important, it is not the be all and end all. They are eyeing the next World Cup.
Ireland comes in on a roll, while the constant questioning by a difficult Irish media is taking its toll. Furlong and Henderson will be fit to come back into the team. Ringrose is coming in to replace Farrell who was a monster last week against Wales and will be a big loss.
Looking at the history between the teams, Ireland has won 3 of the last 5. The last match showed Scotland catch Ireland cold and put 3 tries on the board, get a big early lead and stave off an Irish comeback to win.
This time they expect to do the same, start fast and compete hard anytime the ball gets near the floor. They dominated a disjointed and tired looking England last week; they trust the system to do the same again this week against a well-oiled Ireland with only the 1 flaw. The flaw that every pundit in the land is pointing to. In the hope that they are finally proved right the rugby brain trust are saying that Ireland have a tendency to defend quite narrow which opens up the space out wide. This has been where Ireland has conceded scores in the competition this far.
We will get into more detail on this as the match draws closer, but I think Ireland have a few more tricks up the sleeve. I think the 2 gaps in the competition will serve Ireland well and give them extra time to tinker with the system that in theory works very well. Ireland to a man are better than Scotland, there aren’t many in blue that you would pick to wear a tracksuit in green on game day. The injury list is shortening with players coming back in to the fold.
Ireland should be looking to train hard all week and win well on Saturday. There is no need to talk about grand slams, permutations and combinations or points at this stage. Ireland win 2 games they win. End of. France plays England which will be very interesting too. Both sides now playing for pride that will be some scrap.
But when the Scots arrive in Dublin, it will be great craic in the stadium and the streets but on the pitch, Ireland will be too much.
Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.
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