Ireland forward Tadhg Beirne says Saturday’s crunch clash with Scotland is “knockout rugby” as the Six Nations rivals prepare to battle for a place in the quarter-finals.

Scotland need to win, and win well, to reach the last eight; a four-point margin of victory will send them through via the head-to-head tiebreaker, although there are several more complicated permutations at play. 

Recent history underlines the scale of that challenge. Ireland have won their last eight meetings with Scotland and the world No. 1 side head into their Pool B decider on a record 16-match winning run.

That included a ferocious 13-8 win over South Africa two weeks ago at the Stade de France, and lock Beirne says there is no room for error in the Irish camp as they bid to become world champions for the first time.

“We’ve spoken about the importance of the game. We’re essentially into knockout rugby now,” said Beirne.

“Against South Africa we had the same kind of mindset. There’s a feeling around the group that this is it now for us, we need to continue to step it up week on week.

“That is what we’re chasing, better performances every week, and that’s what we’ll have to do if we’re going to continue in this competition. That starts on Saturday.”

Beirne, who will start in the second row against Scotland, also paid tribute to his Ireland and Munster team-mate Peter O’Mahony.

The 34-year-old blindside flanker will win his 100th cap on Saturday, 11 years on from his first – a spell in which he has won four Six Nations titles including two Grand Slams.

“He wears his heart on his sleeve, he’s an incredible leader and an even better bloke,” said O’Mahony.  

“He’s one of the most sociable guys around the place despite what people think.

“He’s always one of the last in the team room having a cup of tea with the lads and chatting away.

“He’s hugely liked within this group, and it speaks volumes of the man he is. I’m very excited and delighted to share a pitch on such a momentous occasion for him.”