Six Nations: Why Scotland can trouble ‘bogey team’ Ireland
John Dalziel acknowledges Ireland have been a “bogey team” for Scotland in recent years but the forwards coach believes this group of players has the potential to cause Andy Farrell’s team problems if they can produce an 80-minute performance at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The hosts are still gunning for the Six Nations title while the Scots are looking to end a slightly underwhelming campaign with a flourish, by winning in Dublin for the first time since 2010.
Scotland’s victory over Italy in Rome at the weekend was a welcome tonic after the losses to Wales and France, but there were concerns among the coaching staff about the high penalty count and the way the visitors fell away in the final 20 minutes.
Scotland ran the Irish close last year, eventually losing out to a late Johnny Sexton penalty in a 27-24 reverse at an empty Murrayfield. This Saturday’s match will be a noisy, colourful affair, with the home supporters knowing a win would put them top of the standings ahead of France’s game against England later in the evening.
“We’ve tried a lot in the last couple of encounters with Ireland, they’ve been a strong team for many years,” said Dalziel.
“They’ve been a bit of a bogey team for us. We talked a lot around moments. All areas of our game have to be at a very high level consistently. In games gone by it’s been one or two little areas that have let us down.
“They’re such a formidable team, we see that provincially, the guys have played a lot of tough games with them and many away from home. There’s a lot of learning and shared stuff in there, we feel that if we get our game right we can trouble them, we do have the ability to play that for 80 minutes and take it to the wire. We have to ask them questions as well as them asking us.”
Gregor Townsend spoke frankly after the win over Italy and conceded that Scotland would have little chance of winning in Dublin if the played like they did in the final 20 minutes in Rome where they saw their 33-10 lead whittled down to 33-22 by full-time. Unsurprisingly, Dalziel concurred and bemoaned the dip in concentration levels which contributed to the concession of two late tries.
“We are disappointed,” said Dalziel. “We’ve got very high standards. We have been almost the best defensive team in the world for two years now and it’s very hard to maintain that because teams improve.
“A lot of the stuff isn’t about technical and tactics. We talk sometimes about effort. It was a very noisy stadium and you maybe get a bit seduced by the sunshine and the noise. You have to stay on task in Six Nations rugby for 80 minutes - it's a great lesson.
“There is no point in putting in three good quarters against Ireland if we back off for one. One poor quarter will cost us the game at the weekend.”
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