Ireland v Scotland: underachieving hosts to scrape victory

Ireland head into their Six Nations clash with Scotland as the 1/4 favourites to add some gloss to their poor Six Nations campaign – but it won’t be easy.

Ireland’s draw with France last weekend was an ultimately disappointing end to a game that promised so much.

The Irish raced to a 17-6 lead but allowed the admittedly excellent France back into the game to leave them fourth in the table with just one win in their opening three matches.

They are in a better position than Scotland though who have lost all of their first three games of the tournament against England, Wales and France, despite playing some attractive running rugby.

Scotland are undoubtedly getting nearer to where coach Andy Robinson wants them to be but they still look a bit short of seeing off Ireland at 10/3.

They should still have enough to run Ireland close though.

Despite Robinson being regularly criticised for his constant tinkering with the team, he has made just one change – the inclusion of Nick De Luca for broken leg victim Rory Lamont – from the side who produced a spirited performance against France a fortnight ago.

Scotland did win 23-20 on their last trip to Dublin thanks to a last-minute Dan Parks drop goal, showing they can be competitive over the Irish Sea. With Ireland missing influential captain Paul O’Connell and scrum-half Conor Murray, this looks like being another close encounter.

Backing Scotland to win with a +9 handicap at 1/1 looks well worth consideration, while putting some cash on Ireland to win by 1-5 points at 9/2 could yield a very tidy pay out.