Match Preview

Preview: Ireland v Scotland

Emma Orr Sco
Scotland travel to Ireland looking to secure third place and a best finish for 19 years in the Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

There is a lot on the line in the second of the Super Saturday triple-header, with the Celtic cousins vying with Italy for third which means automatic qualification for the World Cup and elevation to WXV1.

Scotland are in pole position on eight points after wins over Wales and Italy and they can finish a promising campaign unbeaten on the road with a win in Belfast.

Ireland, meanwhile, two points back and level with Le Azzurre, will be looking to feed off home advantage, as they did against Wales in Round 3, following a difficult afternoon at Twickenham in Round 4.

Scotland ran out 36-10 winners when the teams met on the final day last year having earlier trailed 3-0 on the stroke of half-time.


Both teams make three changes to their XVs from Round 4.

Scott Bemand restores Ireland co-captain Sam Monaghan to the second row, while Enya Breen is named at centre and Méabh Deely starts at full-back.

Uncapped back Katie Heffernan is in line to earn her first Ireland Test cap as she is named among the replacements.

Heffernan, who impressed for the Wolfhounds in the Celtic Challenge, has been an ever-present for the Ireland Women’s Sevens on the HSBC SVNS Series in recent years.

Elsewhere, Emma Wassell returns to the Scotland second row, with Meryl Smith reinstated at full-back and Coreen Grant promoted from the bench to the wing.

There are two potential debutants among the Scotland replacements in the form of wing Cieron Bell and centre Nicole Flynn.


Ireland head coach Scott Bemand: “Last week was tough but we’ve seen great bounce back in training.

“This weekend, the Six Nations reaches its climax and with some good performances, we’re in a position to compete for that World Cup qualification.

“We’re excited to bring Scotland to Belfast and a quality Kingspan Stadium. It’ll be a large and enthusiastic crowd. We’re looking forward to them revving up the atmosphere to really drive the home advantage.

“With lots of permutations possible, we’ll focus on bringing the ‘best of us’ to go after that winning performance.”

Scotland head coach Bryan Easson: “I’ll be honest, we’ve not talked about it (a potential third-place finish).

“The recipe this season has genuinely been looking at one game at a time, we’ve concentrated on ourselves and it’s been really positive around that.

"We made it very clear that even though it’s the last week of the Six Nations and there are things on the line, we’ve not looked beyond 2.30pm on Saturday. That’s how the week has gone and that’s how we’ll continue.”

KEY BATTLE – Beibhinn Parsons v Francesca McGhie

If it’s speed and guile you’re after, look no further than these two.

Parsons is renowned for her blistering pace, which has been showcased in Ireland’s top-performing team on the global sevens circuit. Her acceleration off the mark and ability to beat defenders one-on-one mark her out as an obvious threat to Scotland in Belfast this weekend.

Francesca McGhie, 20, now with a full game under her belt after making her first start this year in the historic win against Italy, is full of game intelligence. While she’s capable of those game-changing moments required of a modern-day wing, her ability to create opportunities for others is also one of her more underrated assets.


Ireland have lost just two of their last 16 Guinness Women’s Six Nations matches against Scotland (W14), however, one of those defeats came on the final day of last year’s Championship (10-36), with the other coming on home soil in 2018 (12-15).

Scotland have won four of their last six Guinness Women’s Six Nations matches (L2) after losing eight in a row previously.

Ireland’s Dannah O’Brien is the only player to have made 50+ kicks in play in the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations (58) and has also garnered more kicking metres than any other player in the Championship (1824) – O’Brien also possesses the highest place-kicking success rate of any player this year (91%, min five attempts).

Scotland’s Coreen Grant has the highest dominant carry rate of any player in the 2024 Guiness Women’s Six Nations (88%).


In the absence of Chloe Rollie and Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr looks one of Scotland’s biggest threats following her try against Italy last weekend.

The centre has also chipped in with two assists so far this campaign and made a solid 188 metres, so she is always a threat with ball in hand.

Aoife Wafer was not alone in enduring a tough afternoon in the 88-10 defeat to England but she has enjoyed a fine personal campaign on the whole.

The flanker crossed the 30-point mark in Fantasy Rugby in each of the first three rounds and was awarded the Player of the Match award against Wales.

Across the tournament she has made a staggering 323 metres, registered three breakdown steals and crossed for two tries.


Ireland: 15. Méabh Deely, 14. Katie Corrigan, 13. Eve Higgins, 12. Enya Breen, 11. Béibhinn Parsons, 10. Dannah O’Brien, 9. Aoibheann Reilly; 1. Linda Djougang, 2. Neve Jones, 3. Christy Haney, 4. Dorothy Wall, 5. Sam Monaghan, (co-captain), 6. Aoife Wafer, 7. Edel McMahon (co-captain), 8. Brittany Hogan

Replacements: 16. Clíodhna Moloney, 17. Niamh O’Dowd, 18. Sadhbh McGrath, 19. Fiona Tuite, 20. Shannon Ikahihifo, 21. Molly Scuffil-McCabe, 22. Aoife Dalton, 23. Katie Heffernan

Scotland: 15. Meryl Smith, 14. Coreen Grant, 13. Emma Orr, 12. Lisa Thomson, 11. Francesca McGhie, 10. Helen Nelson, 9. Caity Mattinson, 1. Molly Wright, 2. Lana Skeldon, 3. Christine Belisle, 4. Emma Wassell, 5. Louise McMillan, 6. Rachel Malcolm (captain), 7. Alex Stewart, 8. Evie Gallagher

Replacements: 16. Elis Martin, 17. Leah Bartlett, 18. Elliann Clarke, 19. Eva Donaldson, 20. Rachel McLachlan, 21. Mairi McDonald, 22. Cieron Bell, 23. Nicole Flynn