Scotland & Ireland name their sides for key clash at Murrayfield

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Coach Logic

Scotland have made just one change to the side that beat Italy, bringing in Geoff Cross at tighthead for Euan Murray who sits this game out for religious reasons.

Cross will be winning his 19th cap for Scotland when he faces Ireland on Sunday, having been on the bench during the 34-10 victory over Italy in the previous round.

There are two changes on the bench as Jon Welsh takes Cross’s place on the bench, while Dougie Hall replaces Pat MacArthur as the back up hooker after he recovered from his knee injury that he sustained against England.

Despite the impressive nature of Scotland’s victory over Italy, scoring four tries in a Six Nations match for the first time in ten years, interim Head Coach Scott Johnson was at pains to point out the need for further improvement:

“We have to improve on our last game and that’s been our theme at training all week, I make no apology for saying again that we have to step up our work in the contact area.”

“Yes, we’ve some talented athletes in the squad, but we have to give them the opportunities. It’s good to see players challenging for selection – and there are a number consistently putting their hands up, which is exactly what we want to see.”

“We’ve kept changes to a minimum and are saying to the players: ‘You’ve won one game. Now go out show us you can win another’.”

Scotland’s opponents, Ireland, have made five changes to their starting line up that lost to England in the previous round. Gordon D’Arcy, Jonny Sexton, Simon Zebo and Mike McCarthy are all injured, while Cian Healy is serving a two game ban for stamping.

Their absence means a first full Irish cap for Paddy Jackson at fly half and Luke Marshall at inside centre. Jackson comes into the starting XV despite the presence of Ronan O’Gara in the squad. O’Gara remains on the bench with Head Coach Declan Kidney describing it as “very difficult to leave Ronan out”.

Donnacha O’Callaghan and Tom Court return to the starting XV in the absence of Mike McCarthy at lock and Cian Healy at loosehead, while Keith Earls comes in for Simon Zebo on the wing.

There are changes on the bench too as Devon Toner and Ian Henderson come in as second and back row cover, while Luke Fitzgerald also makes his long awaited return to the international scene after his struggles with injury.

Scotland:

15. Stuart Hogg 14. Sean Maitland 13. Sean Lamont 12. Matt Scott 11. Tim Visser 10. Ruaraidh Jackson 9. Greig Laidlaw (vc); 1. Ryan Grant (vc) 2. Ross Ford 3. Geoff Cross 4. Richie Gray 5. Jim Hamilton 6. Rob Harley 7. Kelly Brown (captain) 8. Johnnie Beattie.

Replacements: 16. Dougie Hall 17. Jon Welsh 18. Moray Low 19. Alastair Kellock 20. David Denton 21. Henry Pyrgos 22. Ducan Weir 23. Max Evans.

Ireland:

15. Rob Kearney 14. Craig Gilroy 13. Brian O’Driscoll 12. Luke Marshall 11. Keith Earls 10. Paddy Jackson 9. Connor Murray; 1. Tom Court 2. Rory Best 3. Mike Ross 4. Donncha O’Callaghan 5. Donnacha Ryan 6. Peter O’Mahony 7. Sean O’Brien 8. Jamie Heaslip (captain).

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin 17. David Kilcoyne 18. Declan Fitzpatrick 19. Devon Toner 20. Ian Henderson 21. Eoin Reddan 22. Ronan O’Gara 23. Luke Fitzgerald.

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