After avoiding the Wooden Spoon with an impressive win in the second week, Scotland are hoping that their ability early in the 2013 Six Nations Championship might mean that their inability to beat Ireland at home in the tournament and in general will take a turn for the better after a two week break.
The last time the Scots managed to win three matches in the tournament, it was 2006. The last time they beat Ireland at Murrayfield in the Six Nations was in 2001, beating the Irish 32-10 with tries from Andrew Henderson, John Leslie, Budge Pountney and Tom Smith. Since then it’s been complete Irish domination in the tournament, with Scotland winning only once in the last 11 encounters (2010).
But the try-fest in the 34-10 victory against Italy gave Scotland the hope that this season might be different. Hardly any changes have been made to the side that cruised against the Italians, with Geoff Cross replacing Euan Murray (doesn’t play on Sundays) at tight-head prop, while the leg of Greig Laidlaw might be the deciding factor for the Scots after a good match against Scotland.
The third weekend of Six Nations Rugby brings a less confident Irish side to Murrayfield, without Simon Zebo and Jonathan Sexton, but still Brian O’Driscoll everyone is counting on to create the magic. Paddy Jackson will make his debut at Fly-Half while Ronan O’Gara waits for his chance, while Luke Marshall (centre) will play next to O’Driscoll in the midfield, also making his debut.
Other changes are the inclusion of wing Keith Earls, second-row O’Callaghan and prop Tom Court while the always crucial Cian Healy is suspended, which might prove something that’s too much to overcome.
Prediction – Scotland have new faith restored in their attacking ways with Stuart Hogg emerging at fullback while Sean Maitland is hoping to get on the scoreboard for a second time in the tournament, bringing speed usually not associated with the Scottish side. Ireland have the fighting spirit and the never-ending O’Driscoll, but unless they give the kind of start they had against the Welsh, a Scottish win, after so many years, seems to be on the cards.