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Scotland head coach Townsend wants inch-perfect performance against Ireland

The Scots are outsiders to beat the World number one ranked side.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend hopes experienced will pay off against Ireland (Ian Rutherford/PA)
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend hopes experienced will pay off against Ireland (Ian Rutherford/PA)

By Andy Newport, PA, Tokyo

Gregor Townsend admits it will take a perfect display for Scotland to land a winning blow against Ireland in Sunday’s World Cup opener.

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The Scots are outsiders to beat the World number one ranked side at Yokohama’s International Stadium on Sunday.

Townsend fully believes his team are capable of knocking down Joe Schmidt’s side in their first Pool A clash but thinks his team will have to come out on top in every collision and make the most of every opening if they want to leave the Irish sprawling.

He said: “We have to take our opportunities and we have to limit the opportunities Ireland get.

“Ireland have shown in recent years that they do take their chances and they punish teams.

“They kick it into the opposition 22 and they come away with points.

“We have to win every big moment in the game. Whether that’s a ruck, a tackle or the execution of a pass, we have to be there.

“I believe in the team and with the individuals we have in our squad I believe we will create chances. It’s about taking them.”

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Stuart McInally will lead Scotland against Ireland (Ian Rutherford/PA)

Townsend is relying on experience to see the Scots through this weekend. No Dark Blues line-up has ever walked out at a World Cup boasting more caps than the 630 collectively held by the 15 players set to be led by skipper Stuart McInally.

Ireland’s gameplan will almost certainly be based on strangling the creative flair Townsend’s troops so rely on but the Scotland coach hopes the nous his men have built up will keep them out of trouble.

“We have something like a combined total of 630 caps so that’s hugely important,” said the coach, who had to leave Blair Kinghorn out of his matchday squad after he suffered a delayed recurrence of his concussion symptoms following a head knock against Georgia a fortnight ago.

“This is the first time this squad has nearly all been fit and available.

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Rob Kearney, left, and Keith Earls, second left, will not line up against Scotland (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We’re missing probably just two of three players from every available Scotland player so to get a squad that has this kind of experience for this kind of game is a real bonus.”

While the Scots are almost at full strength, Ireland will be without Rob Kearney, Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw.

Jordan Larmour was the surprise pick to start at 15 ahead of Andrew Conway but Townsend is not convinced his selection means there will be an obvious weak spot in Schmidt’s back three.

“We have to be aware of who he is as a player and his strengths and areas where we can put him under pressure,” he said.

“But he’s an excellent player. If you give him space then he’ll exploit that.

“We know Rob Kearney is a key player for them and him not being available with Keith Earls means it’s a changed Irish team.

“But it’s now an opportunity for Jordan Larmour, who is a very exciting talent.”

PA

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