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Stephen Ferris expects Ireland to crush Scotland and set up Paris decider

| 17.03.2022

It’s the final weekend of the Six Nations and Ladbrokes ambassador Stephen Ferris looks at title hopefuls Ireland and their clash with Scotland in Dublin. 

Ireland vs Scotland (Sat, 16.45, ITV)

The last time Ireland lost to Scotland was at Murrayfield in 2017. The time before that was in 2013. Some would say that Ireland are Scotland’s bogey team because they always seem to come out second best home and away.

I played in the last victory Scotland had in Ireland and that was way back in 2010 at Croke Park when they denied Ireland the Triple Crown, something that’s on the line once again. Scotland are going to beat Ireland in Dublin at some stage, however I don’t think it’s their time this Saturday.

Ireland came under some heavy criticism around their scrummaging performance in round four against England. Multiple penalties were conceded which gave England a really strong foothold in the game, and that’s going to be something the Irish lads will be working on in training this week.

We know that Andrew Porter and Ronan Kelleher are out for the remainder of the championship, so Cian Healy and Dan Sheehan have really got to sharpen up around the set-piece and provide a much more stable platform. Scotland are not renowned for their forward dominance and physicality which has me believing that there won’t be a repeat of last week’s weaknesses from Ireland.

Ireland have scored 20 tries so far in this year’s Six Nations. They have bagged three bonus- point victories and really look like a hard team to defend against when they find their attacking groove.

Jonny Sexton is like the conductor of the orchestra and demands a pitch perfect performance from his team every time they take the field, even though we all know this is rarely possible. He strives for success and gets the best out of his team-mates even when the chips seem to be down.

Jack Conan was immense off the bench against the English and I fully expect him to start the final game. A Lions starting No 8 in the summer adds quality. I’m sure he will want to sign off the campaign with a performance that cements his name on the starting team sheet going forward. Alongside Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier, I believe this is Ireland’s best back-row combination, and I’m expecting this trio to have a big say on the outcome of this match.

Currently sitting fourth in the Six Nations table, Scotland will be disappointed on how things have panned out, especially after getting off to the perfect start in their home victory against England. They always seem to huff and puff but never blow the house down, and especially against Ireland.

Conceding an average of 19 points per game, Scotland really have to tighten up that leaky defence. They are always a danger with the ball in hand and can create some unbelievable opportunities, some of which they have squandered in previous games.

Finn Russell and Ali Price play with a flare to their game which is very enjoyable to watch. However it’s about game management and being able to pin Ireland back that will be more valuable on Saturday. Turning your opposition around when they cough up easy possession can be mentally draining, but only if executed well. Let’s see if Scotland can show us all that they offer more than just streaky moments of play.

History tells us that Ireland should win this between 10-20 points. I think the rich vein of attacking form that Ireland are showing us week in, week out, this is the margin I would be looking at. Ireland at home, should win, and win well.

Prediction: Ireland to win by 11-20 pts @ 5/2

First try scorer: James Lowe @ 7/1

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