Preview: Scotland vs Ireland

Preview: Scotland vs Ireland

You have to go back a long way for a clash between Scotland and Ireland that had more riding on it than Sunday’s encounter at BT Murrayfield.

While defeat in Paris in Round 3 ended Scottish hopes of a Grand Slam, they could wrap up a first Triple Crown in 33 years with victory in Edinburgh.

All that stands in their way is the world’s number one team, still unbeaten in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations and looking to keep their own Slam dreams alive ahead of a Super Saturday clash with England on St Patrick’s Day weekend in Dublin.

Ireland welcome back the cavalry for this one, with skipper Johnny Sexton one of a number of big guns playing after missing the win in Rome.

Scotland, meanwhile, will celebrate the 100th cap for one of their greatest-ever players, as Stuart Hogg looks for a repeat of 2017 when his early double inspired his country to their last win over Ireland.

With title ramifications and silverware on the line, you will not be able to take your eyes off this one.

Team News

Scotland made one enforced change with Jonny Gray in for the suspended Grant Gilchrist – that means a first all-Gray second row for Scotland in six years.

Perhaps more intriguing, was the other change made by Gregor Townsend. Hamish Watson was sacrificed early in Paris because of Gilchrist’s red card, and now he has to settle for a place on the bench with Jack Dempsey brought in at No.8, Matt Fagerson shifting to the blindside and skipper Jamie Ritchie at openside.

That looks a more physical approach, with changes on the bench as Simon Berghan comes in for WP Nel, Scott Cummings steps up with Gray starting and Chris Harris coming as well.

Ireland, meanwhile, welcome back a host of key men who missed the trip to Italy, with what looks their strongest line-up of the Championship so far.

In addition to Sexton, who starts and captains the side from fly-half, Garry Ringrose will win his 50th cap in the midfield alongside Bundee Aki, who shifts back to his more familiar inside centre role.

Conor Murray is back at scrum-half, while up front, Dan Sheehan returns to the starting line-up at hooker and Tadhg Furlong makes his first appearance of the Championship at tighthead prop.

There is also a return to the back row that impressed in the France victory as Peter O’Mahony comes back on the blindside with Caelan Doris moving to No.8.

On the bench, Cian Healy, Jamison Gibson-Park and Robbie Henshaw are all back for their first games of the campaign and will be keen to have an impact when called upon.

Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ben White, 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Matt Fagerson, 7. Jamie Ritchie (c), 8. Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown, 17. James Bhatti, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Scott Cummings, 20. Hamish Watson, 21. Ali Price, 22. Blair Kinghorn, 23. Chris Harris

Ireland: 15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Mack Hansen, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. James Lowe, 10. Johnny Sexton (c), 9. Conor Murray, 1. Andrew Porter, 2. Dan Sheehan, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan, 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Josh Van der Flier, 8. Caelan Doris.

Replacements: 16. Ronan Kelleher, 17. Cian Healy, 18. Tom O’Toole, 19. Ryan Baird, 20. Jack Conan, 21. Jamison Gibson-Park, 22. Ross Byrne, 23. Robbie Henshaw.

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