Sport Rugby

Saturday 18 November 2017

Triumph or disaster

1 -- Win: The result may be not of massive importance on paper, but, psychologically, it carries considerable significance. The Scots go into the fixture with a near full-strength selection and decent recent form against the Irish and if Declan Kidney's mix-and-match selection can secure a victory, it would create momentum and confidence.

2 -- Drive on: Cian Healy and Mike Ross have provided Ireland with a scrum to be reckoned with since becoming the established propping pair, but there is less certainty behind them.

A strong showing in the tight from Tom Court and Tony Buckley, as well as Marcus Horan and John Hayes off the bench, would ease nerves looking ahead to New Zealand.

3 -- Back in business: Full-back was a problem area during the Six Nations and Rob Kearney's return to the No 15 jersey is timely and welcome. It is dangerous to expect too much too soon, but if the Louth man can augment his customary security under the high ball with telling line incursions, it will represent a major boost.

Similarly, while Rory Best and Sean Cronin have done well, such is Jerry Flannery's quality, that if he reasserts himself off the bench with no injury relapse, Ireland immediately look a better World Cup proposition.


1 -- Injuries: Kidney has developed his squad successfully over the past three years, but this Ireland squad still cannot afford to lose anyone, be they front-line or fringe.

2 -- Heavy defeat: A relatively narrow loss would be acceptable, given the means-to-an-end status of this clash, but a defeat by 15 points or more would be a heavy blow and reduce morale for tougher tests ahead.

Irish Independent

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