Sat, Mar 10, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Scottish pride on the line against Ireland

FIRED UP Everything points to a runaway victory for Ireland against poor Scotland at Murrayfield, but the Scots will be desperate to atone for their last abject performance

AFP , EDINBURGH

Scotland's Simon Taylor, right, leads his team off the pitch after losing 17-37 to Italy during a Six Nations match at Murrayfield in Scotland on Feb. 24.

PHOTO: AFP

Scottish pride will be on the line as Frank Hadden's squad attempt to deny Ireland their third Triple Crown in four years in today's Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.

Ireland are riding high after their 43-13 hammering of England at Croke Park two weeks ago while the Scots are still reeling from a 37-17 defeat at home to Italy.

Flyhalf Phil Godman is the only individual who has paid the price of that dismal display by a Scots side that, up until the Italy debacle, had been in the "rapidly improving" class of world rugby.

Australian-born No. 10 Dan Parks has been restored to the side at Godman's expense.

But scrumhalf Chris Cusiter readily acknowledges that his half-back partner was not the only one who had a very bad day at the office against the Azzurri.

Slack passes from Cusiter gifted the Italians two of the three tries they scored in the opening seven minutes two weeks ago and the 24-year-old admits he is relieved to have been given the chance to make immediate amends.

"I feel I've put Italy behind me now," he said. "Frank Hadden and the rest of the coaches looked at the rest of the game and felt that I responded well.

"Now we need a big performance because of what happened two weeks ago and we need a big performance because it's Ireland -- so those two things should hopefully combine for us to win.

"I'll bet anyone that what happened in the first seven minutes against Italy won't happen again this week," he said.

Unsurprisingly, the Irish have opted for the same starting line-up as the one which bounced back from a painful last-gasp 20-17 defeat to France to put England to the sword.

But head coach Eddie O'Sullivan could yet be forced into changes after being forced to call up Leicester wing Geordan Murphy as cover for Denis Hickie, who is struggling with a back problem after suffering a spasm in training on Thursday.

Andrew Trimble is likely to be promoted to the starting line-up if Hickie fails to recover in time with Murphy filling the vacancy on the bench.

Otherwise, the only change in the 22 is the inclusion of Wasps scrum Eoin Reddan instead of the injured Isaac Boss.

Victory today would extend Ireland's winning run over the Scots to seven games, as well as keeping their Championship hopes alive in the hope of a slip-up by the unbeaten French against England at Twickenham tomorrow.

O'Sullivan is expecting the fired-up Scots to give his side a tough battle, "with no quarter asked or given," while skipper Brian O'Driscoll, who will equal Keith Wood's record of 36 matches as captain, has warned of the dangers of complacency.

"Of course we are going to be favorites considering the results we've had but on occasions against Scotland, they have turned up wanting to win more than we did," O'Driscoll said.

"Sometimes it's down to how people feel on the day and how much someone wants it on the day," he said.

Scotland (15-1):

Hugo Southwell, Sean Lamont, Marcus Di Rollo, Rob Dewey, Chris Paterson (capt.), Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter, Dave Callam, Kelly Brown, Simon Taylor, Scott Murray, Nathan Hines, Euan Murray, Dougie Hall, Gavin Kerr.

Ireland (15-1):

Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll (capt.), Gordon D'Arcy, Denis Hickie, Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, Denis Leamy, David Wallace, Simon Easterby, Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan, John Hayes, Rory Best, Marcus Horan.

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