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Pundits' verdict on Scotland v Ireland

Keith Wood

Keith Wood
Former Ireland captain

I think it is going to be a Grand Slam for Ireland. It is time.

If they got one thing out of the win over Scotland it is that they have to go and play [in Cardiff]. If they play properly, they can beat Wales.

In the first 15-20 minutes at Murrayfield, Ireland gave away six penalties, some of them needless. And they only gave away two in the whole game against France. That comes from a fear of failure.

This side may have a lot of experience but they don't have a lot of experience of winning these type of games.


But they came out at the start of the second half and played with purpose, started building phases, and drawing the energy away from Scotland.

For 15 minutes they put the game in the bag and then played it out for the last quarter.

Apparently that is the first time Ireland have come from behind at half-time in the Six Nations for nine years, which is extraordinary. It just shows that when the real pressure comes on Ireland have struggled in the past, so that is another small monkey off their backs.

Brian O'Driscoll looks like a changed man. Last year he looked maybe a little overweight, and he had a few injury worries, but from the start of this championship he has looked sharp and eager.

Ronan O'Gara (left) celebrates with man-of-the-match Peter Stringer after Ireland's victory
Ronan O'Gara (left) celebrates with man-of-the-match Peter Stringer

Peter Stringer said he really missed the jersey. Well one of the reasons he didn't have it was because he doesn't make many breaks, but here he got one opportunity and really made it count. That shows he has learnt his lesson.

Ronan O'Gara had a hard start to his international career, when he was in and out of the side with David Humphreys.

But as his career has gone on, he seems to have got mentally stronger. If he makes mistakes, he comes back stronger, and if he has a bad game - like he did against England - he is nigh-on guaranteed to come back brilliantly.

Paul O'Connell has been a model of consistency in this tournament. He has won a huge amount of line-out ball, he is a big, brawling type of second row, all sinew, and he has been totally consistent. He is not making any mistakes and his standard is going up and up.

Andy Nicol

Andy Nicol
Former Scotland captain

I am disappointed at the result but I think Scotland are going in the right direction, the backline in particular.

I was very disappointed after the first week [the loss to Wales]; I thought it was a poor selection for that match.

The likes of Thom Evans, Max Evans and Simon Danielli didn't feature but since they have come into the team you can see the excitement in the crowd when they get the ball, and Scotland probably haven't had that for a few years.

They still have to get the balance right between the off-loading game, which they have to do, and playing too many 50/50 passes. If they get that right, then I think they can make the next step.

Unfortunately, in the first 15 minutes of the second half, Scotland surrendered the initiative.

Ross Ford overthrew twice at the line-out and that gave Ireland momentum. They got a grip because of Scotland's mistakes.

I think Ireland will win the Championship but on points difference. I don't think they will beat Wales in Cardiff.

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see also
Scotland 15-22 Ireland
14 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Scotland v Ireland match stats
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Scotland v Ireland photos
14 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union

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