Ross Ford looks for win in Ireland


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The Independent Online

Captain Ross Ford believes a Scotland win in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland in Dublin is necessary for the squad to retain belief that they are moving in the right direction.

Despite valiant performances against England, Wales and France and praise from numerous quarters, Scotland are without a win in the championship and have suffered five straight Test defeats for the first time since 2004.

"It's very important for us as a squad to see that the way we're trying to play bears fruit," Ford told Press Association Sport.

"We believe that is the case, that we are playing in the right way to win games, it's just about sustaining it for 80 minutes.

"There's a lot of frustration in the squad with the way that the results have gone.

"We could've been sitting here two from three if we had sustained our performances for a full 80 minutes."

Head coach Andy Robinson has a record of two wins from 13 Six Nations games in charge and has side-stepped direct questions over his future.

Ford is adamant the players are as disappointed by their results as their fiercest critics and hopes Robinson, who is contracted until after the 2015 World Cup, will remain with Scotland beyond the tournament.

The Edinburgh hooker added: "We're frustrated as a team. We're putting in all this effort and through lapses of concentration and slight errors it's costing us.

"It's frustrating. Nobody's getting down about it, there's no point.

"You have to make sure you're upbeat and focus on the next game and you go into every training session with enthusiasm and looking to improve.

"Me personally and as a squad we believe Andy's the right man to take us forward."

Scotland will tomorrow make the journey across the Irish Sea in similar circumstances to two years ago, when they had lost all four previous matches in the tournament and required victory to avoid the Wooden Spoon.

Robinson's men then secured a 23-20 win in Ireland's final Test at Croke Park. It is a result which must be replicated two years on if Scotland are to avoid a likely Wooden Spoon decider against Italy in Rome on March 17.

Ireland will be without second row Paul O'Connell, with Ford's opposite number Rory Best inheriting the captaincy.

Ford believes O'Connell, his captain on the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, will be missed, particularly in the lineout, but that Best is a capable deputy.

Ford added: "Paul O'Connell is a big talisman for the Irish. It maybe gives us a slight edge with them having to make a late change like that.

"But we're not complacent. We know they're a very good team and we've got to perform at our best to get that result.

"Rory's a good player and he's played well in the championship.

"He's a natural leader. He does it well for Ulster, so he fits in there quite easily."

While the lineout is a crucial area for Scotland, Ford expects the breakdown to be where the game is won and lost.

Ireland have effectively utilised the "choke" tackle in recent years, attempting to prevent a ruck forming, thus slowing down ball.

Ford added: "They try to hold boys up in the tackle so we've got make sure we're aggressive in that area, we get good go-forward and quick ball."

Centre Graeme Morrison, who is a key midfield ball carrier for Scotland, revealed the squad have been practising how to combat the technique this week.

He said: "We have been working a wee bit on it in training this week, the way the ball carriers carry the ball into the contact and the supporting players around, how they deal with the Irish players that are doing it."

While Saturday's match could be key in determining Robinson's future, Morrison insisted it has not been weighing on the players' minds.

He said: "It's not something that's been discussed at all. We're in the middle of a Six Nations tournament and have to focus on the rugby side of things."

Asked if Scotland need to win to justify Robinson's faith, Morrison said: "Absolutely. He's put so much into turning us into the team that we are, a team that I believe can beat most rugby sides in the world.

"It's just putting it together to show we can do it."