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Dan's desperate to learn from Ireland's mistakes

By Gavin Mairs

Ireland's World Cup may be over, but their presence here in Paris has been replaced by Frank Hadden's Scotland side, who have moved into the former Irish team hotel near the Porte de Sèvres.

Scotland, nervous victors over Italy last Saturday, must now do what eluded Eddie O'Sullivan's men if they are to reach the semi-finals for only the second time in their history - beat Argentina.

Hadden's men will have learned much from Ireland's woeful exit at the Parc des Princes on Sunday. Finding the appropriate game plan and execution is entirely another matter.

Scotland out-half Dan Parks is in no doubt about the size of challenge that awaits his side in the quarter-final clash at the Stade de France on Sunday.

"Argentina were very tough to play against and we are all well and truly aware of that," said Parks.

" Their game is about possession and territory. Once they get in that position on the field they stay there until they get some sort of points."

The comparison of the two teams' performances in the pool stages would point to Argentina being hot favourites to reach the last four in the first time in their history.

But Parks claimed that his side had yet to unveil their A game.

"We haven't really shown too much at this stage. I think there have been stages where we have played enterprising play, but at the weekend (against Italy) we didn't get much of a chance with the weather.

"As players we would like to have played a bit more rugby. With the Portugal game we showed glimpses of good play. Romania was similar, wet greasy conditions but in the end we slugged it out and scored six tries."

Embarrassingly for Ireland, Argentina head coach Marcelo Loffreda believes Scotland will pose a much greater threat to his side than O'Sullivan's men managed - highlighting the danger of Chris Paterson's boot. Paterson slotted six penalties out of six in Scotland's 18-16 win over Italy in the pool C eliminator.

"It's very wrong to think Scotland are just a kicker and 14 players behind him," said Loffreda.

"Our match against Scotland will be even more difficult than the one we played against Ireland. Scotland have a great running game, they are very fast, and they have a strong pack of forwards. On top of that, they have a great kicker.

"I think Scotland will prepare a very tactical match. They will want to play in our territory.

"We are going to have to respond to that by playing a good kicking game."

Meanwhile, the Pumas have been buoyed by a surge of support back in Argentina as rugby fever has taken grip in the football-mad country.

Even the kick-off time between the clash of Argentina's two biggest football teams, Boca Juniors and River Plate, has been rescheduled to allow fans to watch the Pumas World Cup quarter-final clash in Paris.

The bitter rivals from Buenos Aires and the Argentine Football Association have responded to public pressure to bring the match forward by two hours to 2pm.

The Boca Juniors-River Plate match is an almost sacred fixture on the Argentine sporting calendar and has been moved only twice before.

" It's really important for Argentinean sport, the fact the football fans are now thinking about rugby," added Loffreda.

"It's really nice to know that these guys are creating such huge interest

Belfast Telegraph


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