By Ruaraidh Britton, Feature Writer
Well, that first round was pretty fun, shall we have some more of the same this weekend?
Last week the script was well and truly ripped up, and England downed the champs in Dublin. Scotland cruised to the top against Italy, and I don’t even need to begin to mention the France match without triggering flashbacks of carnage and chaos.
Scotland V Ireland
The Grand Slam winners have been badly wounded and are out on the path for revenge, but heading to Edinburgh to seek revenge isn’t the easiest of places to gain it. A dramatic loss to England exposed their flaws badly and showed a serious lack of a plan B; add the injury tally to that and then you’re in trouble against a Scottish side with flair, momentum and hunger. Joe Schmidt isn’t one for lying down
CJ Stander, Devin Toner and most notably Garry Ringrose all picked up injuries, leaving Quinn Roux to fill the whole at lock, Jack Conan powering the back of the scrum, and Chris Farrell teaming up with Connacht partner Bundee Aki at centre. Instantly the Scots have an advantage as this is far from Ireland’s best XV, but their weakened front and back rows only level the playing field. WP Nel and Sam Skinner are notable absences from the side, but Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray and Pete Horne all find themselves back in the match day 23, as Scotland’s injury count continues to flutter back and forth.
Ireland should be the team I write below as my predicted winner, but I can genuinely see Scotland pulling off the shock of the weekend and bagging what would be a sensational result. Townsend’s side were clinical and ruthless last weekend until they last 15 minutes, but if they keep that performance going the whole time then what’s stopping them winning their first two matches for the first time in Six Nations history. How Blair Kinghorn only made the bench is beyond me, but he knows a thing or two about scoring against Ireland, as does Jacob Stockdale scoring against the dark blues. Finn Russell will need a big performance to outsmart Johnny Sexton, but if he can do that and control the game, then Saturday could be a difficult day for Ireland. Rocked confidence will do them no favours and if they can’t get over losing to England then there’s no point in them coming to Edinburgh, but ultimately Scotland are overdue an impressive Six Nations run, and this could well be the year.