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Hodge: We must get basics right

Scotland will focus even more on getting the basics right to combat the step-up in class of opponents when they face Ireland on Sunday, according to coach Duncan Hodge.

Scotland ran in four tries in a clinical win against Italy in their second RBS 6 Nations encounter to kick-start their campaign following defeat by England. Despite their impressive attacking display, head coach Scott Johnson felt their aggressive and positive tackling was the key difference in the two matches.

And Hodge, who is now a full-time member of Johnson's backroom staff, believes the fundamentals are even more important when Ireland visit Murrayfield, and he said: "It makes a big difference to get a win in front of your home crowd and score some tries and defend well."

He added: "There is a lot of things that we have put in place over the last few weeks, pre-England game as well, that came to fruition in that game.

"By no means are we saying that is perfect, no question, because there was a lot of deficiencies there that we need to improve on if we are going to beat Ireland.

"We are trying to identify the key components of winning test-match rugby. A lot of the times we go back to possibly very basic things. The higher the level you go, the basics become even more important. That's been the common theme.

"It's putting a whole load of things in place and everything goes into one melting pot. If you get some aspects right, it helps other aspects of your game."

Ireland face a selection crisis with Gordon D'Arcy, Simon Zebo, Mike McCarthy and Jonathan Sexton all ruled out on Sunday through injury.

Paul O'Connell, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe have been missing all championship, while Cian Healy has been suspended for stamping on England's Dan Cole, but Hodge does not expect the challenge to be diluted despite the absentees.

He added: "Ireland are a very direct side and they will come at us really hard. They have a great set of forwards and some world-class backs so they are a very good all-round team. We have got to respect Ireland, they are an incredibly good team."


From Belfast Telegraph