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Scots confident this is big chance to begin changing their abysmal record against visitors


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Scott Cummings

Scott Cummings

�INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland

�INPHO/Tommy Dickson

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Scott Cummings

It was one of those throwaway comments but it was still illustrative of where Scotland feel they are with themselves.

Lock Scott Cummings was up for media duty during the week and mentioned that Ireland are putting out a very familiar core of players which, in turn, means that the Scots will know exactly what is coming tomorrow.

It said as much about Scottish confidence as it did regarding the sense of predictability surrounding Andy Farrell's Ireland.

Cummings even threw in a few comments about Scotland now having the game to overturn their pretty dire record against the Irish, which currently has them prevailing in just one of the last 10 times the sides have met.

It wasn't really meant to be some Gatland-style bravado in the lead-up to a game, just the reality of the situation as far as the Scots are concerned in the sense that they feel that this meeting ought to go their way.

Mind you, Gregor Townsend's much-improved side - all a far cry from when they crashed out of the World Cup in Japan - are by no means the finished article, as they demonstrated when imploding last time out against Wales when it had looked as if they would back up their stirring opening win at Twickenham.

Also in the mix is the fact that their scheduled round three clash with France fell to Covid, which means they have not played for a month.

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So, though they do feel that Ireland are somewhat on the predictable side, there is still that nagging doubt that lack of game time together along with the scars of Zander Fagerson's game-changing red card in that 25-24 loss to Wales at Murrayfield may all have taken a toll.

Still, Scotland do look to be in a better place than tomorrow's opponents.

They have a balance now between the free spirits epitomised by Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and the attacking brio of Duhan van der Merwe thanks to a harder-nosed defence under the tutelage of Steve Tandy and a meaner scrum knocked into shape by Pieter de Villiers.

Both Tandy and De Villiers came on board in the post-World Cup restructure carried out by a then under-pressure Townsend and the appointments have paid dividends, as, of course, was bringing Russell back in from the cold.

There can be little doubt that Russell will be an influential figure tomorrow, though there is still enough of a mercurial nature about him that his influence might not be entirely positive for his team.

Hogg too injects genuine X-factor to Scotland's game, as does Van der Merwe, and tomorrow's hosts have further added to their attacking threats by bringing in Sean Maitland, while WP Nel will assist in solidifying the scrum.

The selection of fit-again Jamie Ritchie is the call that could be a game-changer and his work alongside that of Hamish Watson gives the Scots a potential advantage at the breakdown for purposes of either stifling Ireland or providing turnovers for counter-attacks.

The Scots know what Ireland will bring and also realise this is a great chance to see them off.​​​​​​​

Belfast Telegraph


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