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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Scores set to mount as Ireland push title hopes against Scotland

Ringrose ready to mark return with a try

Ireland celebrate Jacob Stockdale's second try against Wales
1 of 1

Six Nations
ITV & TV3, 2.15pm Saturday

Ireland face two tough hurdles in the run-in to their grand slam dream, but their home clash with Scotland gives them a huge opportunity to pile pressure on title rivals England before next weekend's Twickenham showdown.

If Joe Schmidt's men can beat the Scots and score four tries to gain a bonus point, England will have to do the same against France in Paris - a far more imposing challenge - just to stay in the title hunt.

Targeting a bonus point before the win is even in the bag is a dangerous approach, even more so against a team with the attacking strength of Scotland.


France v England preview

Super Rugby round four preview


But the Irish must surely be confident in their own attack having run in 13 tries in their last two matches, and there must be every chance we will see a high-scoring contest in which Scotland play their full part.

The two question marks over Scotland are their away form and the knock-on effect of their landmark victory over England.

For all the plaudits that came their way following that deserved Calcutta Cup success, Scotland still have to match their Murrayfield performances on the road. In 46 away matches in the Six Nations, they have won just six and they were pretty ineffective in their opening defeat to Wales in Cardiff last month.

But they have at least managed to find their scoring touch away from home - they bagged five tries in two away matches last year and on their last trip to Dublin, a 35-35 defeat in the 2016 tournament, they scored three tries, as many as they had managed in their previous five visits.

The opening exchanges could well be tight but it's hard to see this playing out as a cagey encounter as Scotland's natural game is to move the ball and Ireland usually go on the front foot at home.

The hosts have won eight of their nine Six Nations clashes with Scotland at home, and their only defeat in their last 12 outings in Dublin was to world champions New Zealand. They have won five of their last six home matches in this tournament by a double-figure margin, the exception being last year's 13-9 success over champions England.

There are clearly try threats in both teams. Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale leads the tournament scoring charts with four tries, while Scotland centre Huw Jones is one behind with three having crossed twice against England.

All the Ireland backs have impressive try tallies, but Garry Ringrose could be the man to back.

The Leinster centre has come in following injuries to Rob Henshaw and Chris Farrell but head coach Schmidt clearly has faith in Ringrose, who has played only a handful of games this season due to injury. Four of Ireland's tries in this campaign have come from their centres.

Recommendations
Over 45.5 points
4pts 10-11 bet365, Paddy Power
G Ringrose to score a try
1pt 7-2 Ladbrokes


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The Irish must surely be confident in their attacking prowess having run in 13 tries in their last two matches
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