Irish eyes had better not be smiling

ANDY ROBINSON and his players have been under the microscope as they prepare to bounce back against Ireland on Sunday.

They have had an extra week to get into shape and much is riding on this game. The media have had their say and so have the supporters.

The word “unacceptable” has been trotted out several times over the past fortnight and the analysis has been done.

Ultimately we under-performed against Wales and basic skills of passing and catching the ball let us down. Now it is time to get things back on track again.

There is no doubt the boys will be under immense pressure – after all this is a professional arena we are in now with so much at stake – but we love being the underdogs and, as we did against South Africa in the autumn, we are pretty good at performing well when we’ve been written off.

Hugo Southwell and Joe Ansbro are still injured so in comes Chris Paterson at fullback to win his 101st cap. Euan Murray is out because of his decision not to play on the Sabbath. So Sean Lamont is rewarded for his performance off the bench two weeks ago and Ruaridh Jackson replaces Dan Parks, with Mike Blair starting at scrum half. Johnnie Beattie is recalled at No.8 and the recovered Richie Gray starts in the second row. Prop Moray Low deservedly gets his start.

My prediction? Ireland could be on the end of a huge backlash. Put this down as a home win by a comfortable margin, and yes, we will score tries. We have to go into this being positive, and some players, particularly Nick De Luca, Mike Blair, Moray Low and Chris Paterson, have a chance to stake their claims for the rest of the RBS 6 Nations season.

Scotland team: C. Paterson; N. Walker, N. De Luca, S. Lamont, M. Evans; R. Jackson, M. Blair; A. Jacobsen, R. Ford, M. Low, R. Gray, A. Kellock, K. Brown, J. Barclay, J. Beattie. Subs: S. Lawson, G. Cross, N. Hines, R. Vernon, R. Lawson, D. Parks, S. Danielli.

z See fixture panel below for all the local weekend matches.