James Lowe explains why Ireland are ‘bouncing’ into knockout Scotland clash

Two of the world’s top five nations meet with just one last eight place likely to be up for grabs

Harry Latham-Coyle
in Paris
Friday 06 October 2023 16:19 BST
James Lowe (left) believes Ireland can back-up their performance against South Africa and reach the World Cup quarter-finals
James Lowe (left) believes Ireland can back-up their performance against South Africa and reach the World Cup quarter-finals (Getty Images)

Ireland wing James Lowe believes his side are well equipped to back up their win against South Africa with an equally excellent performance against Scotland.

The two nations meet in what is essentially a quarter-final play-off, with a victory of any kind enough for Ireland to top the pool.

Andy Farrell’s side, ranked number one in the world, produced an outstanding display against the defending champions a fortnight ago, and return to the Stade de France rested and recharged after a weekend off.

The high-stakes nature of the game means the pressure is again on the Six Nations grand slam winners, but Lowe is certain that they have got the mentality right and complacency will not creep in.

“All we are doing is trying to prove to ourselves that we can back up performance on performance,” Lowe explained. “A lot was said about how good a test match it was, but I think both teams went away thinking ‘we can definitely be better’.

“We had a week off, we trained well and had a few days off, so we’ve definitely come into this week bouncing and looking at ways we can get better. You can’t brush over things, especially when you do win, because otherwise the mistakes and pressure we put on ourselves will come back to bite us in the butt.

“You take as many learnings from a win as you do a defeat and hopefully we’ll be better for it tomorrow night.”

It is more than six years since Scotland beat Ireland, who outclassed their hosts at Murrayfield in their Six Nations encounter earlier this year as part of a winning run that stretches back to the first test of last summer’s series in New Zealand.

Pool B was described as the pool of death ahead of the tournament, with three of the world’s top five nations drawn together.

There is still a scenario in which the Springboks exit the World Cup, but it would require Ireland to take a try bonus point and still lose by 21 points or more.

It means, in all likelihood, that this will be a straight knockout affair, with Scotland almost certainly needing to win by eight points or more to progress.

“We are essentially into knockout rugby now,” said lock Tadhg Beirne, who partners Iain Henderson in the Irish second row with James Ryan only on the bench. “But it was the same kind of mindset against South Africa.

“There is a feeling around the group that this is it for us, we need to continue to step it up week-on-week. We are chasing better performances every week and that’s what we will have to do to continue in this competition. There is a feeling of finals week, for sure.”

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