Another classic Celtic clash graces the Six Nations as Andy Farrell’s Ireland travel to Murrayfield to take on Gregor Townsend’s Scottish outfit.
Ireland have posted three victories from five outings. Their first clash was against the Welsh in Cardiff where a red card for Peter O’Mahony in the 13th minute thwarted their chances of victory. Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Irish put on a good show, but ultimately fell to their opponents 21-16.
Licking their wounds, they travelled back to Dublin to face the fiery French. A competitive contest ensued but the Irish were unable to stick one on Les Bleus, final score: 15-13.
A shot at redemption occurred in Round 3 as Ireland had an opportunity to pounce on Italy, an opportunity which they grabbed with both hands, putting Fanco Smith’s chargesto the sword 48-10.
Ireland forward’s coach Paul O’Connell remains very wary of the capabilities of the Irish side and, especially, the brilliant rugby mind of head coach Gregor Townsend.
“I think it’s the best Scottish team I’ve ever gone up against as a coach or a player,” he said. “They’re very well coached, very physical and they’ve got some real X-factor players as well – Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell. They’re in a very good place and we’re aware of the challenge.
“There’s no doubt Scotland are an excellent side. Any team coached by Gregor Townsend always attack very well. Going back to his Glasgow days they always had incredible physical edge.
“You think sometimes if a coach is into attack then his team won’t have a physical edge, but every Glasgow team I played back in the day were excellent attacking sides, but were physical as well. It’s the same with this Scottish team.
“So much good attack in the Autumn Nations Cup and the Six Nations has come from Scotland. Fantastic performance against England, excellent set-piece performance, which laid a real solid foundation for them to go on and win.
“It’s a massive test, these next two weeks against a resurgent, confident Scottish side and an England side we’ve struggled against in recent years. It’s a real tough challenge now in the next few weeks.”
The Scots have had a strong tournament so far, opening their campaign with a historic victory against England at Twickenham – the first time in 38 years.
Brimming with confidence, they met the Welsh at Murrayfield. A red card to Zander Ferguson hampered their chances of victory, yet the defeat was only of a 1-point margin.
Scotland’s Round 3 clash with the French was called off due to Covid-19, rendering them well rested for Round 4.
"We had prepared well for our postponed game against France, and the players have adapted well to the change of plans and have brought real energy and focus to our training sessions.
"Playing Ireland is always a physical affair and one that demands you keep stepping up to make tackles or contest for possession.
"They have played well in their opening three games and have some outstanding players in their squad. It should be a cracking game."
A mouth-watering clash in the flyhalf channel awaits as Scotland’s enigmatic playmaker Finn Russell squares up to the experience, skill and determination of Johnny Sexton, which is sure to be a battle between artistry and expert game management.
Another celebration of a great rivalry, this will not be one to miss.