Laidlaw | Title tilt looms large in Dublin

With 61 caps behind him and in his eighth year in a Scotland jersey, last week’s Calcutta Cup victory had been a long time coming for vice-captain Greig Laidlaw.

Scotland became only the second team to beat England in 26 tests, winning the coveted Calcutta Cup for the first time since 2008 and stunning the visitors 25-13 in Edinburgh, however once the celebrations ceased, it was back to work for Laidlaw an co as Scotland looked ahead to facing Ireland this Saturday (11 March, kick-off 2.15pm) in Dublin – live on ITV.

“It is a game [vs. England] when growing up as a youngster you can only imagine yourself winning it and to be able to do that is something very special but it’s been all about the Ireland game since the Sunday [after].”

Last year, Scotland secured only their second opening round victory in NatWest 6 Nations history at BT Murrayfield, surviving an Irish comeback to win 27-22 at home.

It was two late penalties from Laidlaw [which he celebrates below] that secured and extended the home lead for the win, with the team able to take some aspects of that game into this weekend.

“I think they [Ireland] will have a slightly different team," he explained.

"They’ve had some personnel changes since last year and obviously we are away from home this time.

“There’s certainly some things we can take from last year’s game, like we defended the game really well.

“Ireland will want to keep hold of the ball and we need to get the ball back as much as we can, keeping hold of it ourselves, which we did well last year, so that’s one of the areas of the game we have looked at.”

Ireland are unbeaten in their last 13 home games in the Six Nations (W11, D2), before that run they’d never gone more than seven such matches in the Five or Six Nations without defeat, part of which has helped them to the top of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations table.

A win for Scotland in Dublin this weekend would therefore put them level on matches-won and right in contention for the championship going into the final round.

Laidlaw believes repeating the results from their last two rounds [beating France and England at home] will prove to be an even tougher Test in Dublin.

He said: "In the context of Six Nations, it is a bigger challenge than facing England.

“If we are serious about challenging for the title then we need to win this game and clearly Ireland are unbeaten [this season].

"They are going well for a reason. They are a very good side. It's going to be a huge test for us and one which we need to meet head-on."