'Scots can match English physicality against Ireland'


Six Nations: Blair Kinghorn hat-trick seals opening Scotland win v Italy
Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland
Venue: Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 5 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland 92-95FM & 5live sports extra; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Scotland can reach the heights England did on the opening weekend of the Six Nations and inflict a second straight defeat on Ireland, says Jamie Ritchie.

The Scots opened their campaign with a 33-20 win over Italy, while Eddie Jones’ men upset the odds to beat the title favourites in Dublin.

Ferocious physicality and superb defence were central to England’s win.

“It will be the basis of a result for us at the weekend if we can get that bit right,” said back-row Ritchie.

“A huge part of defence is physicality and you saw that at the weekend. When England put them [Ireland] under pressure they were very physical, so that will be a huge part of the game.

“If you look at some of our results recently against some of the bigger teams, especially that game against England last season, our defensive performance was what won us the game.

“There are the great tries, the great pass from Finn Russell and all that, but if you look at the nitty gritty stuff we defended really well in that game.”

‘Ireland second best in the world’

Gregor Townsend’s men, who beat England 25-13 last February, were cruising to victory over the Italians after running in five tries, but at 33-3 the side seemed to collectively switch-off. The visitors crossed three times in the closing stages to give the scoreboard a less emphatic look.

“It probably gives us a bit of a kick up the backside in terms of next week – we need to be on our mettle for 80 minutes,” added Edinburgh flanker Ritchie.

“There are bits for us to work on so it’s maybe not a bad thing. Obviously, we wouldn’t have liked to ship three tries in any game.

“On paper, Ireland are the second best team in the world. They pushed New Zealand in the autumn and won that game.

“They are a different challenge – a big challenge – but as you saw at the weekend, not unbeatable. There are opportunities we’ll look to exploit.”

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