Friday 23 March 2018

Beattie braced for back row battle

Johhnie Beattie believes Scotland's back row face thier biggest challenge on Saturday against Ireland. Photo: Getty Images
Johhnie Beattie believes Scotland's back row face thier biggest challenge on Saturday against Ireland. Photo: Getty Images

Johnnie Beattie has described Scotland's final RBS 6 Nations game in Ireland on Saturday as the biggest challenge yet for Glasgow's 'Killer Bs'.

The Warriors back row of Beattie, John Barclay and Kelly Brown have taken the Six Nations by storm since starting together for the first time in the tournament opener against France.

Flankers Barclay and Brown in particular have earned rave reviews, but number eight Beattie outshone both in Saturday's Calcutta Cup draw with England.

Presuming Brown passes cognitive tests following his sickening clash of heads with Ugo Monye at Murrayfield, the trio are due to start their fifth straight match together this weekend.

But they will come up against an even more vaunted back row in Stephen Ferris, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip in what is set to be the last rugby union match at Croke Park.

Beattie, who will earn his 12th cap and first against Ireland this weekend, said: "It's been huge for me to be given a chance to play and take part in this championship.

"I was nervous before it and you never know how it's going to go. Myself, Kelly and John are pleased with the way things are going and we just want it to continue as long as we can and keep giving everything to it.

"We know that the Irish back row's up there probably with the best in the world so it's another massive challenge if we get given the chance."

Beattie went into Saturday's match with a point to prove having been hauled off shortly after half-time in the miserable defeat in Italy two weeks earlier.

He could hardly have responded better, with a dynamic display in defence and attack earning the 24-year-old the man-of-the-match award.

But he has revealed he was hobbling by the end of what had been a real war of attrition at Murrayfield and only stayed on because the substitute back rower had already taken the field.

"I needed to back myself up and perform well and I felt the first half I managed to do that," Beattie said. "Second half, I kind of faded a bit with cramp and just managed to hobble about the pitch.

"Both calves, both hammys (went) and it was only Geoff Cross on the bench.

"They didn't want to bring on a prop for a back rower so they just told me to turn around and get on with it."

Despite once again failing to turn a dominant performance into a victory, Beattie believes there are plenty of positives to take into the Ireland game as Scotland seek the victory required to avoid the wooden spoon.

"I thought our defence was better," he said. "We've been broken on the fringes of our defence out wide by being too tight.

"It's a really simple thing but I thought we did that better. We managed to put them under pressure out wide and there were quite a few dominant hits, which was really encouraging."

However, it is in attack where Scotland's real problems lie, with a lack of tries still very much in evidence.

"It's the next couple of phases after the line break that you're going to score your tries," Beattie acknowledged.

"If we can keep ball a little bit better and engineer a couple more things, we'll be more dangerous."

Saturday's performance means that - fitness permitting - head coach Andy Robinson is unlikely to make many changes to his starting XV for the trip to Dublin.

However, it seems certain Nathan Hines will be recalled at second row after Jim Hamilton gave away crucial penalties against England.

Hooker Scott Lawson may also lose his place on the bench after another ill-disciplined cameo.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport