Ireland to follow-up Wales win in second World Cup warm-up with Scots
Coral make Six Nations winners Ireland overwhelming odds-on 1/14 favourites to defeat Celtic rivals Scotland, having begun their Rugby World Cup preparations with victory away to Wales.
Such a short price on Joe Schmidt’s side is explained by the fact they have conceded just 16 points in their last two meetings with the Scots, scoring 68 in response.
Ireland also have an excellent record this century against this opposition, losing just five of 19 encounters, giving them a win ratio of almost 75 per cent. Scotland should be on the receiving end again, but have sprung the odd shock on their hosts, though hold a big 7/1 price to win in Dublin.
Schmidt’s side are at an immediate advantage because they have already played a full international following a summer of savouring their second successive Six Nations victory. Despite besting Wales 35-21 in Cardiff, Ireland are making some changes.
Leinster flanker Jack Conan will make his debut and is 3/1 to cap his Irish bow with a try anytime. Back row operator Chris Henry, meanwhile, is to make his first start for Ireland since major heart surgery last year and number eight Sean O’Brien has been named skipper by Schmidt, so is a 14/1 shot to lead by example by crossing first.
Scotland give a controversial senior international bow to New Zealand-born Hugh Blake in their back row, but he was capped at Under-20 level for his adopted nation. Blair Cowan and David Denton also make debuts.
Glasgow Warriors scrum half Henry Pyrgos, 10/1 to add points to the board anytime, captains the Scots for the first time while, Greig Tonks gets the chance to turn out at fly half.
Wasps number 10 Ruaridh Jackson moves to full back and unfamiliar 15 shirt. Hooker Fraser Brown, usually a replacement player, is starting for the first time with Ryan Grant and Jon Welsh packing the front row. Scotland are missing Stuart McInally, however, through illness.
Recalled Richie Vernon will be making his first international appearance in two years, after moving from number 8 to centre with Pro12 champions Glasgow. At 8/1 for a try, he will have to be strong.
Vernon’s Warriors clubmate and prop Mike Cusack will be on the bench, and is highly likely to be handed his Scotland debut by coach Vern Cotter. Team news for both sides, with replacements, can be found in full below.
If the two previous meetings at the Aviva Stadium are any indicator, a healthy Ireland win is on the cards. The 16-20 bracket for margin of victory is the least Schmidt can expect on home turf, and that outcome holds nifty 9/2 odds.
Ireland: Simon Zebo, Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan, Issac Boss, Dave Kilcoyne, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Dan Tuohy, Jack Conan, Chris Henry, Sean O’Brien (C)
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Michael Bent, Nathan White, Paul O’Connell, Jordi Murphy. Eoin Reddan, Paddy Jackson, Dave Kearney.
Scotland: Ruaridh Jackson, Sean Lamont, Richie Vernon, Peter Horne, Tim Visser, Greig Tonks, Henry Pyrgos (C), Ryan Grant, Fraser Brown, Jon Welsh, Jim Hamilton, Grant Gilchrist, Blair Cowan, Hugh Blake, David Denton.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Gordon Reid, Mike Cusack, Robert Harley, John Barclay, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Weir, Matt Scott.
Coral’s top tip: To enhance their odds-on price for victory, back Ireland to win by a margin of 16-20 points at 9/2.