High-tempo Ireland must facilitate Scotland in their mediocrity
Scottish blindsides are rarely this meek. Kelly Brown, captain and openside, was bullied completely in Twickenham and bar his one up tackles was very quiet against Italy. The Scottish wing forwards and midfield style should shape our tactics.
O’Gara has more caps coming off the bench than the Scottish half backs combined (32), who are fast becoming controllers of Scotland’s propensity to self-implode. The fact the Scottish midfield scored a try each shouldn’t fool you. They are competent but limited.
Matt Scott shoots up in defence, especially from off-the-top lineouts, and Sean Lamont misses too many tackles. Neither are especially creative and the tries they scored were well taken but criminally conceded by the Italians.
However, it is their back three that have class, maximising the width of the pitch. Their conundrum, however, will be sourcing the ball, which brings Jackson’s style into play. Long touch-finders will be immediately thrown back into play and long box-kicks that are too long will be returned in the counter.
A loose turnover is the oxygen the Scots live on; so, starve them. How much rugby should Jackson play? I feel Ireland should err on intensity, pressure, narrow attack, backrow carries, lineout mauls and rewinds.
Scotland did huff and puff in contact but ultimately are meek at the breakdown.
On their own ball they favour the front of the lineout, which does give them go forward and scoring opportunities. But for all their six tries (from distance or embarrassing defence) Scotland still suffer from white line fever.
Their breaks are generally simple hard-running lines with little continuity from their backrow. Italy came to play rugby, and their ambition was their undoing as they failed to dominate the collisions on their terms.
Italy forced well over twice the tackles from Scotland, who missed a huge amount: if Italy, with 70 per cent of possession, were more clinical all could have been different. This Scottish team are still relatively poor, borne out by their basics, where coach Scott Johnson has them shouting “line speed” as they defend.
I know Ireland are shorn of many class players but with a possible eight Lions still togging out for them on Sunday I expect, with ruthless contact and collisions, the Irish backrow will shine and Scotland will lose.
No excuses Declan.
PS: Congratulations to Olivia Traynor and her gang of six women who were the driving force behind The Lineout Charity Ball in Galway’s Radisson Hotel last Saturday night. It was a cracking night, full of goodwill and charity from the rugby community conscious of the damage rugby can do to its players.
Although all six are Connacht season ticket holders, with all proceeds going to the IRFU Charitable Trust, Connacht Rugby did not show up in numbers.