Ireland v Scotland - Teams and Prediction
WORLD CUP, ROUND FIVE: Permutations and conspiracy theories dominated headlines this week ahead of Saturday’s Pool B shoot-out between Ireland and Scotland at Stade de France in Saint-Denis.
The equation is simple for Ireland. They will top the pool with a win or a draw and they will go through to the play-offs with the Springboks.
However, things will get a little more interesting if Scotland can pull off an upset on Saturday.
If Scotland win and they deny Ireland a bonus point, then Gregor Townsend’s side will go through on the head-to-head rule. That would mean the Boks would top the pool.
There is also a scenario where the Boks could get knocked out. However, that would require a bonus-point victory for the Scots by a margin of 21 points or more combined with Ireland collecting a losing bonus point for scoring at least four tries.
Those are just a few of the scenarios that could play out.
The eight-point winning margin Scotland needs was brought up during Townsend’s team announcement press conference and the coach was very aware of all the permutations.
“Our approach would be similar if we were just looking to win the game,” said Townsend.
“It may lead to less pressure about having to kick a goal but looking to score tries is another thing we have to look do this weekend as well.
“There are two scenarios for us to get through, one is eight points and one is to score more tries. It suits how we would approach normal games which would be to aim to score tries when we are in the opposition 22.
“It’s important that we get those opportunities. Ireland have been very good at not giving up too many opportunities inside their 22 over the last two to three years and that’s a goal for us, to make sure we are in there a few times this weekend.”
On what makes him believe Scotland can qualify, Townsend added: “Well, why not? The players have performed in massive games before. We were underdogs but we have broken records before, whether it was not winning in Paris, not winning at Twickenham, we hadn’t beaten England for seven or so years.
“This is another opportunity to break another record. We believe in them; we believe in where they are mentally as a group and where they are physically. They are ready to play their best rugby.”
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was also asked about the permutations ahead of Saturday’s encounter.
“We want to win. It’s a massive game, so important to us and obviously to the travelling fans and the people back home,” said Farrell.
“Fortunately, we have Iain Henderson who is good at maths so we’re across everything as far as that’s concerned.
“But the easiest thing is to make sure we perform well and deserve to win the game outright.”
One of the more intriguing battles on the field will be between the two flyhalves.
Johnny Sexton and Finn Russell are both world-class playmakers and they are capable of winning games in high-pressure situations.
“Like I have said any other time I’m asked about the opposition flyhalf, it’s never us against each other, it’s our teams and you rely so much on guys around you,” said Sexton.
“You tackle each other very rarely anyway.
“We are both in charge of our teams and he [Russell] is an outstanding player.
“He has got a full bag of tricks and we have to prepare for that.”
Players to watch
For Ireland: After the line-out woes against the Springboks, Dan Sheehan comes in at hooker to try and provide some assurance and stability. He is also a good ball player with aggression, strength and speed. Another key change comes in the form of Ian Henderson replacing James Ryan in the second row. Henderson has plenty of experience in the line-outs and he also brings some muscle into the equation. All eyes will once again be on flyhalf and captain Johnny Sexton, especially with his battle against Finn Russell. Sexton is a proven match-winner and if he starts dictating play then it will be a slow poison for the Scots. In the midfield, Bundee Aki has been pure class for Ireland this year and there will be even more problems for Scotland if he gets momentum throughout the match.
For Scotland: Gregor Townsend surprised many when he named Ali Price as his starting scrumhalf for the match. Ben White was the first choice No,9 throughout the year, but he finds himself out of the matchday 23 this week. Flyhalf Finn Russell can be a magician on attack and he will look to expose any weaknesses in Ireland’s defence with some direct running and slick passing. Scotland will also have plenty of pace out wide in the form of Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham. Van der Merwe also has that physical power that will get his team over the advantage line with every run he makes. In the pack, Scotland will need their back row to bring the aggression, especially at the breakdown. Rory Darge is one of those players who has the skills and the dynamism to give the Scots a fighting chance in Saint-Denis.
Key RWC info
- In the last RWC meeting in Japan in 2019, James Ryan, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong scored first-half tries for Ireland before Andrew Conway added a fourth after the break. Scotland’s only points came from the boot of Greg Laidlaw.
- In the first-ever RWC meeting in 1991, Raph Keyes kicked four penalties and a drop-goal to give Ireland a 15-9 lead in the 55th minute. But tries from Graham Shiel, on as a replacement at flyhalf for Craig Chalmers, and Gary Armstrong completed a famous comeback win.
@rugby365com: Ireland by 11 points.
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 James Ryan, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Stuart McCloskey.
Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 WP Nel, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 Luke Crosbie, 22 George Horne, 23 Ollie Smith.
Date: Saturday, October 7
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 20.00 UK & Ireland time)
Expected weather: It will be mostly clear with a temperature around 12°C by kick-off.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)
Additional reporting: @WorldRugby