Ireland’s power game should be no issue for Scotland if they can handle England like they did at Twickenham, reckons Scott Cummings.
The lock will be in the front line against Ireland’s physical pack on Sunday at Murrayfield, and the visitors believe that has been the crucial element in their run of four wins against the Scots in the last four games.
The physical confrontation is big in every game, Cummings agrees, but he doesn’t think that Ireland have anything more than teams Scotland have coped with in the past.
No parity up front, no win
“I would say physicality is key for pretty much any team anywhere,” said the Glasgow lock. “If you don’t get at least parity up front, you are probably not going to win the game.
“Going into this match the way that we dealt with some of the things that England were doing, for example, in our win down there is our starting point.
“We were really strong in a lot of those set-piece areas, and we continued that against Wales when we were really good in the line-out apart from one loss, and there was some really good scrum battles as well.
“So, we know we can be physical up-front and that gives a target for the forwards going into the game.”
Maul will improve on Wales
One area Ireland are sure to target is the Scottish maul, excellent at Twickenham but it surprisingly struggled against Wales, as Cummings acknowledged.
“It was something we weren’t our best at on the day,” he said. It is something we have trained at a bit.
“We’ve looked at one or two really simple things that we know we can do better, to stop 50-60 per cent of what was happening. We’ve just got to react a bit better, get in quicker and stop it at source.”
As for Ireland’s successes over Scotland recently, Cummings believe the Scots have the measure of that.
“There’s definitely a couple of things to focus on, and I think we’ve changed a lot of things over the past couple of years,” he said. “We’ve become tough to beat, and we’re still working on that.
“We know it’s going to be a massive game against Ireland. They’re always a great team, and they probably haven’t changed that much.
“They have a lot of the same sort of players they have played with for the past five or six years at least, so we know what they’ll bring. They’ll keep possession constantly, playing away with the ball, so we’ll have to be very strong defensively and on form in attack too.”
Scotland’s discipline must hold up
A key will not be giving Ireland the chance to kick penalties or use them to set up territory close to Scotland’s line, but Cummings says the Scottish discipline has been good in the championship so far.
“It’s still something we talk about,” he said. “The red card against Wales happened and it’s how you adapt to it.
“But I’d say our discipline has been pretty good over the last two games, apart from one or two key instances. The number of penalties we’ve given away has actually been pretty good, we’re at the lower range of that in the Six Nations compared to other teams.
“It’s definitely been a focus for us, not giving away as many penalties and making sure you don’t let teams back into the game by doing that, because it can snowball. It gives them territory and puts you on the back foot.”