SCOTLAND v IRELAND BETTING PREVIEWScotland finished just one point behind Ireland in 2016 Six Nations, with wins against Italy and France. They recorded narrow defeats against England (9-15) and Wales (27-23), showing impressive improvements under coach Vern Cotter. This Autumn they defeated Argentina and nearly beat Australia – losing by just a point following conceding a 76th minute try.
Vern Cotter begins his final year as Scotland head coach and he will be pushing his side to send him off on a high. Rookie midfielder Huw Jones made a terrific start to his Test career and will start the match partnering Alex Dunbar in the midfield. The settled halfback pairing of Finn Russell and Laidlaw will again look to hog the headlines, while Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour complete a formidable back three. The omission of John Barclay in favour of Josh Strauss at eighth man is an interesting one.
Ireland disappointed in the Six Nations last season but they enter this tournament as second favourites having beaten New Zealand and Australia during their Autumn Internationals. The recent direct encounters against the Tartan Army have been dominated by the Boys in Green with victories in the last four meetings. But the last matches games have been fiercely contested and have seen Scotland push them all the way.
Jonny Sexton has been ruled out of the game through injury and will be replaced by Paddy Jackson. Sean O’Brien was also an injury concern but he has come through and is picked at 7. Josh Van der Flier provides cover on the bench. Tommy Bowe is picked as a sub. Peter O’Mahony has also been ruled out, as the Munster flanker has failed to recover from a hamstring problem.
SCOTLAND v IRELAND STARTING LINEUPS
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 John Barclay, 21 Ali Price, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Mark Bennett
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Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadgh Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Cian Healy, 18 John Ryan, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Kieran Marmion,22 Ian Keatley, 23 Tommy Bowe
SCOTLAND v IRELAND BEST ODDS
|SCOTLAND|| 3.20 with||Bet £10, win £32.00|
|THE DRAW||26.00 with||Bet £10, win £260.00|
|IRELAND||8.00 with||Bet £10, win £80.00|
SCOTLAND v IRELAND PREDICTIONS
|OUR PICKS||BEST ODDS||BOOKMAKER|
|Winning Margin: Ireland by 6-10||6.00|
|Highest Scoring Half: 2nd Half||1.91|
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