Ireland may be focused on Scotland’s ‘threats’ but revenge in Dublin could secure Six Nations with a week to spare
Skipper Rory Best is still reeling from mistakes made in loss to the Scots last year even though Irish could secure series in Dublin with a week to spare
If Ireland are to beat Scotland on Saturday and edge to within a win of only their third Five/Six Nations Grand Slam they must not repeat the mistakes they made in last year’s match, says captain Rory Best.
The 35-year-old hooker said Ireland allowed themselves to relax fatally once they had battled back from 21-5 down to lead 22-21 with the game entering the final stages only for Greig Laidlaw to convert two penalties to seal the game for the Scots.
The Irish – unbeaten at home in the Six Nations since head coach Joe Schmidt took over after the 2013 edition – will start as favourites even though Scotland arrive in Dublin buoyed by a scintillating 25-13 victory over champions England.
“We got ourselves back into it and we breathed a sigh of relief,” said Best – who will win his 110th cap this weekend – at his eve of match press conference on Friday. But that was a mistake because if you do that in tests you can easily lose control.
“You can’t afford to do that and we paid heavily for it.”
Best discounted Scotland’s poor away record in the tournament which, without counting traditional whipping boys Italy, has seen them win just two of their last 37 on the road.
One of those, though, came in Dublin in 2010 when Scotland denied Ireland the Triple Crown.
“I think when you look at that first game in Cardiff (Scotland were thrashed 34-7 by Wales in their tournament opener this season), the squad they’ve named now, there have been a lot of changes, a lot of very important people have come back in,” said Best.
“We don’t focus on home or away records, we focus on the threats,” he added.
Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll has, however, highlighted the visitors’ poor away record in the Six Nations and Scotland captain John Barclay had no complaints.
“I think that is fair comment,” Barclay said. “The record speaks for itself … Ultimately the teams that do well in this competition have to do well away from home.”
Meanwhile Best said he had no fears Garry Ringrose would be up for the challenge despite the centre only having played 54 minutes of rugby since early January.
“Garry has the advantage of youth (he is 23) whereby there is a little bit less of a fear factor,” said Best.
“I would say to him don’t build into the game explode into it.”
Best, Ireland’s third most capped player behind the now retired duo of O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara, assumed the captaincy after Paul O’Connell retired after the 2015 World Cup. He says dreams of the Grand Slam had been shunted aside although the Irish could assure themselves of the Six Nations title – their third under Schmidt – with a week to spare if they secure a bonus-point win and England fail to match that against France in Paris.
“Even if anyone from the squad was looking forward to the England game that result in Murrayfield (Scotland beating England) made them focus on the Scots.”