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Ireland coach abandons six-two bench split for Scotland clash

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Andy Farrell has kept faith with the Ireland starting XV from the 22-23 defeat to England last weekend hoping they redeem themselves by beating Scotland on Saturday to secure back-to-back Six Nations titles.

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Farrell admitted the Irish could have no complaints after their 11-match Six Nations winning run and hopes of historic back-to-back Grand Slams had been ended as they had been beaten by the better team.

Nevertheless, their three previous victories had been so dominant Farrell believes they deserve another chance and gain their reward in emulating his predecessor Joe Schmidt, in 2014/15, with successive titles.

The only changes to the matchday 23 comes on the replacements bench with Farrell opting for a five-three forwards-backs split.

Ireland suffered from having only two backs – and one scrumhalf in Conor Murray – on the bench against England with both Calvin Nash and Ciaran Frawley going off with head knocks.

Nash has been passed fit and starts but Frawley drops out altogether, with his Leinster teammates, flyhalf Harry Byrne and centre Garry Ringrose, called up to be the replacements.

For Ringrose it is his first appearance in the 23 in this year’s tournament as the first-choice centre during the run to the World Cup quarterfinals has been laid low with a shoulder issue.

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Not many people will give the Scots a chance against Farrell’s side and ending a run of nine successive defeats at the hands of the Irish.

Ireland are also bidding for their 19th successive home win. Gregor Townsend’s side have not won in Dublin since 2010 when the Irish were still at their temporary home of Croke Park.

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Garry Ringrose.

Date: Saturday, March 16
Venue: Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Kick-off: 16.45 (16.45 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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