Scotland coach Shade Munro has been forced into making a change to his pack for tomorrow’s Six Nations match against Ireland at Scotstoun, but has otherwise stuck with the squad that lost 28-7 to Italy last week.
A foot injury has ruled out Stirling County No 8 Siobhan Cattigan, probably for the rest of the Championship, and Munro has responded by moving Sarah Bonar, pictured, from lock to the back row and bringing the experienced Debs McCormack back into the second row.
The Scots beat Ireland 15-12 in Donnybrook last year in what was their first away win in the Six Nations in a dozen years, but lost 22-15 to a last-minute score at Broadwood in 2017. Munro expects another close contest, and believes that if they are to end up on top his team will need to show better game management than they did in losing to Italy last week.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve narrowed the gap a bit, because previously they [Ireland] were much stronger,” he said. “I think we’re pretty much on a level playing field. Given we beat them over there, I think they’ll be really motivated to do the same thing to us over here. We certainly got the impression when we went over there for a pre-season game that they were a bit upset about having lost to us, because we made a big play of the fact it was our first away victory.
“So they won’t have liked that at all – which is good. That’s what you want. You want people to get annoyed.
“They have a new coaching group and they’ve had a transition of players in and out, but they are getting better. They’ve got a good set piece: a good scrum, a good lineout drive, and that’s how they like to play the game.”
Although Scotland lost to the Italians, their scrum was far more solid than it had been in the autumn, so Ireland – beaten 51-7 by England last week – may not have the edge in that department. “Our set piece is getting better,” Munro added. “Certainly our scrums are, and against Italy they were much better and we were relatively consistent. Our backs may have the edge if we use them correctly. Against Italy our game management wasn’t the best and we can’t just expect things to happen.”
Scotland (v Ireland at Scotstoun, Friday, 7.35pm): Chloe Rollie (Lille); Liz Musgrove (Hong Kong), Hannah Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lisa Thomson (Darlington, captain), Annabel Sergeant (Heriot’s); Helen Nelson (Montpellier), Mhairi Grieve (Firwood Waterloo); Lisa Cockburn (Darlington), Lana Skeldon (Watsonians), Megan Kennedy (Stirling County), Emma Wassell (Heriot’s), Debs McCormack (Harlequins), Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough), Rachel McLachlan (Stirling County), Sarah Bonar (Loughborough). Substitutes: Jodie Rettie (Saracens), Katie Dougan (Gloucester Hartpury), Mairi Forsyth (Stirling County), Sophie Anderson (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Nicola Howat (Edinburgh University), Sarah Law (Edinburgh University), Lisa Martin (Lille), Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough).