Ford: Beating Ireland would boost belief

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 said.

“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 sustained our performances for a full 80 minutes.”

Meanwhile England’s Owen Farrell yesterday hit back at criticism from Leicester head coach Matt O’Connor and dismissed his claims that England are negative and take the field simply “trying not to lose”.

O’Connor’s comment formed part of a stinging attack on the way Leicester’s out-of-favour half-backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs have been treated by England’s interim coach Stuart Lancaster.

Flood dropped behind Farrell and Charlie Hodgson in England’s fly-half pecking order and will not be involved in Sunday’s Six Nations game against France. Youngs is expected to be on the England bench in Paris but he has lost the starting scrum-half jersey to Lee Dickson.

Farrell insisted England’s new-look side proved against World Cup semi-finalists Wales that they are prepared to take on the best in the world.

“The way we played against Wales was a massive step in the right direction for us and we all thought that,” said Farrell. “It was still disappointing to lose a game when we created quite a few chances but we are massively excited about the way we are going.”

France half-backs Francois Trinh-Duc and Morgan Parra have been dropped for the visit of the English.

France team to face England: C Poitrenaud (Toulouse); V Clerc (Toulouse), A Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), W Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), J Malzieu (Clermont Auvergne); L Beauxis (Toulouse), J Dupuy (Stade Francais); J-B Poux (Toulouse), D Szarzewski (Stade Francais), N Mas (Perpignan), P Pape (Stade Francais), Y Maestri (Toulouse), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), J Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz).

Italy team to face Wales: A Masi (Aironi Rugby); L McLean (Treviso), G Canale (Clermont-Auvergne), A Sgarbi (Treviso), Mi Bergamasco (Racing-Metro Paris); K Burton (Treviso), F Semenzato (Treviso); A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro-Paris), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), L Cittadini (Treviso), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), C Van Zyl (Treviso), A Zanni (Treviso), S Favaro (Aironi), S Parisse (Stade Francais).

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