Keith Earls competes for a high ball against Chris Harris and Stuart Hogg of Scotland. Photo: Paul Devlin/Sportsfile

Ireland boosted ahead of final Six Nations clash

Ireland face England in their last game of the Guinness Six Nations this Saturday in Dublin with renewed heart after their dramatic win over Scotland in Murrayfield on a score of 27-24.

England turned around their own poor form to beat France with a late try by Mario Itoje to win the match in Twickenham 23-20 on Saturday.

Ireland’s second victory of the championship means they are up to second in the table, although France and Scotland have played a game less. Ireland lost their opening two games to Wales and France, while England lost to Scotland in their opener, beat a poor Italy side and then lost to Wales in Cardiff.

So both teams have simalar records, while England have looked a shadow of the side that got to the World Cup final in 2019, until they beat France at least.

Ireland have probably played a bit better than England in losing to Wales with only 14 men and being narrowly beaten by France. However Ireland don’t look like a top level team at the moment, although nor do England.

If both teams play as well as they can, England should win, but both teams are very unlikely to play at the top of their form.

At least Ireland showed more attacking inventiveness against Scotland with tries coming from Robbie Henshaw and the brilliant Tadhg Beirne, while Johnny Sexton was supreme with the boot, scoring a critical penalty to win the game in the 78th minute.

Scotland scored two tries through Irish defensive lapses. While these kinds of errors should be relatively easy to iron out, there have been major defensive malfunctions against Wales and France, while a poor Italian side also managed a try against Ireland.

Ireland were quite dominant against Scotland, leading 24-10 early in the second half having created a few more try opportunities which they failed to finish. Defensive errors left Scotland back into the game, and England will win if something similar happens on Saturday.

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell was proud after Ireland came from behind to beat the Scots. “To come back from a few slip-ups error-wise from the restart, the lineout and defensively we let things slip a bit, and to defend your own line like we did time and time again. We just kept knocking them back, getting back off the floor and obviously they got the seven points to draw the game, it would take down a few teams mentally. But they stayed together, they stayed focused, they regrouped, great kick-off, good chase, good pressure and stayed focus in the next moment and we got the turnover.

“Big game players that’s what they do, they take responsibility and Johnny put over the points so we’ll pick it apart like we always do, there’s plenty to work on as always,” he said after the match.

Ireland face England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 20 March at 4.45pm.