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Rugby World Cup: Ireland likely to sweep aside Scotland in blockbuster opening match

ANALYST
Preview
22 Sep 2019, 06:46 IST

Ireland v Wales - Guinness Summer Series
Ireland v Wales - Guinness Summer Series

Amid mixed reports of forecasted heavy rain and even the possibility of a typhoon sweeping across Japan, two of the home nations will face off in a mouth-watering opening fixture between Ireland and Scotland at the Rugby World Cup 2019.

The pool A fixture will be held at the International Stadium Yokohama in front of a sell-out crowd of 72,000.

With the two sides competing against the host nation in pool A they will both aim to get their respective campaigns off to a winning start.

Despite being ranked No.1 globally, Ireland have produced lacklustre performances in recent tournaments. In this year's Six Nations, they finished in third place falling to England and Wales.

They have, however, managed to beat the Welsh twice in warm-up matches in Japan before this tournament.

Head Coach Joe Schmidt will be looking to add a World Cup trophy to his already gleaming list of achievements after taking over in 2013. The New Zealander has won three Six Nations titles, one Grand Slam and led Ireland to their first two victories over the All Blacks.

Jonathan Sexton is likely to be a prime source of points as he takes his usual place at fly-half. The Leinster player has tallied 84 caps and 765 points for his country.

Scotland head into the match as slight underdogs and are even tipped to exit the tournament at the pool stages.

Gregor Townsend’s men will also have to get past the host nation Japan in their final pool game. Should the hosts repeat their giant-killing antics of the previous World Cup with their shock win over The Springboks, then they may find themselves flying home early.

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Greig Laidlaw is expected to lead The Dark Blues out as he takes his usual start at scrum-half. Seemingly Townsend has gone for experience over potential in his squad selection the Scotland roster boast a total of 630 caps in the starting 15.

Ireland have won five of the last six meetings between the two sides and are considered hot favourites to take the points in their opening match. 

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