Scotland have travelled to Dublin this weekend in the hope that they can repeat the performance two years ago that saw them snatch a victory from the Irish with a late Dan Parks penalty. The win saw the Scots escape from 6th place and the dreaded wooden spoon, and a win this weekend could see them go into next week’s Italy match, the wooden spoon decider, with an edge over the Azzurri who face a tricky match in Wales.
Scotland went to Dublin two years ago in similar form to the form they are in now. Three losses (France, Wales and Italy) and a draw (England) saw them propping up the rest of the nations, leaving them going into their final match vs. Ireland with a “win or bust” attitude.
Perhaps it was over confidence from the Irish or perhaps it was Scotland’s want and need for a win, but Scotland went out and looked as if they would be the only winners that day. They took a 7-17 lead at one point only for the Irish to fight back. With one minute to play, the scores at 20-20, Scotland were awarded a penalty right on the left hand side touchline. Up steps Mr. Parks, the calmest man in the stadium that night, to nudge the ball over and in between the posts winning the match for Scotland.
The Scots never let their heads go down when they lost their 10 point lead, they continued with their own game, believing it would get them through the match and to victory. Not only did they beat the Irish in their own backyard that night, they also stopped them from winning the Triple Crown and denied them the satisfaction of saying goodbye to Croke Park with a victory. This is exactly the kind of fight, ambition, attitude and belief Scotland need this weekend if they are to come away from the Aviva with another memorable victory.
Scotland welcome Nick De Luca back to the starting XV, as he comes in for Rory Lamont who broke his leg vs. France. De Luca will play at centre with Rory’s brother Sean moving out to wing.
Other than that change, Scotland stick with the same XV which played France with Ruaridh Jackson and Euan Murray coming in for Duncan Weir and Ed Kalman in the replacements. Max Evans will also be available to come off the bench after he won his fitness battle and was acquitted of assault charges this week.
Ireland have made three changes to the side which started in the draw against France last weekend. In come Peter O’Mahony, Donnacha Ryan and Eoin Reddan who replace the injured Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Connell and Connor Murray.
Rory Best will lead Ireland out as captain in the absence of O’Connell who, along with Murray, has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament.
Overall, Scotland have always had a pretty dire record against the Irish but 2010’s victory can give the Scotland management, squad and fans hope of finally turning their good performances of late into some much needed points.
In the other fixtures, Wales will look to go into their match with France, knowing a victory will see them crowned the Six Nations and Grand Slam champions, with a win over the Italians at the Millennium Stadium. On Sunday, France play hosts to the English.