Ireland captain James Ryan has challenged his side to finish their autumn on a high as they face Scotland in their final Autumn Nations Cup game.
Ryan, who has led Ireland in their two most recent fixtures in the competition in the absence of injured regular skipper Johnny Sexton, is demanding more after Ireland delivered a 23-10 win over Georgia at the weekend.
Tries from Billy Burns and Hugo Keenan secured the victory but Andy Farrell’s side scored just three points in the second half against the tier two nation.
With Guinness Six Nations rivals Scotland lying in wait in the 3rd/4th place play-off this weekend, the time is now to show just how much Ireland are improving according to Ryan.
“We want to see a top-end performance this week,” Ryan said. “It’s a real challenge. As I said, Scotland are playing well. They’ll back themselves coming to the Aviva.
“I’ve no doubt we’re going in the right direction. Even in the games that we’ve lost recently, I’ve said the same.
“There’s so much to work on. There’s a great opportunity for us this week to finish the year on a high with Scotland coming. We know how to fix things and it’s very much in our own hands.”
But, Ryan and Ireland will know they are in for a battle at the Aviva Stadium after the two sides played out a closely-fought encounter in the Guinness Six Nations earlier this year.
Of particular interest could be the forwards match-up where Ryan has stated Ireland simply weren’t good enough against Georgia.
Ryan added: “Obviously the ruck wasn’t good enough. I thought we started well. I thought the first half was really positive, but we took our foot off the pedal in the second half. Definitely.
“I thought, as a forward, that’s one big area we need to be better at this week. Credit to the Georgians, I thought physically they fronted up massively in that second half. They got over the ball really well.
“The quality of their tackle was really strong, but we need to be much more accurate, much earlier at the ruck. That’s one area anyway.
“We will be hard on ourselves. It’s not the standards that it should be. We wanted to bounce back much better than that. We’ll have to take an honest look at ourselves.
“If we want to finish the year on a really positive note next week with Scotland coming to town, we know we’re going to have to be a lot better than that.”