Shaun Goosen previews the Six Nations Round One that will see neighbours England and Scotland lock horns on Saturday, 06 February.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
England v Scotland
6 February 18h45
To Win (80 Mins)
Englan: 9/10 (-14.5)
Scotland: 9/10 (+14.5)
A typically confident England outfit begin the defence of their Six Nations crown when they host Scotland in the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham on Saturday.
Eddie Jones’ side have been vocal in the lead up to the tournament, with veteran hooker Jamie George boldly claiming that they want to “take teams apart” this campaign. Having secured the Autumn Nations Cup title in early December after winning all four of their Test matches, there’s no questioning the Red Roses’ confidence.
That said, the English are missing a number of key figures heading into this one. Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Sam Underhill, Joe Launchbury and Joe Marler are all out, which will provide the Scottish forwards with plenty of promise in a Test match that’s likely to be cold and wet.
There’s also a major concern over the match sharpness of the Saracens contingent, with the club’s internationals not having played since that Cup final triumph against France. Captain Owen Farrell has talked up the time off as having made for a “good pre-season”, but not everyone’s buying it. Especially when the man pulling the strings for the opposition goes by the name of Finn Russell.
The Racing 92 maverick is a one-of-a-kind footballer, and this writer’s (admittedly optimistic) pick for the British Lions No 10 jersey this July. Russell has the tools to unlock virtually any defence on the planet and will be frothing at the bit to unleash some mayhem on John Mitchell’s defensive structures come matchday.
However, if the forecast for Saturday is anything to go by, the game will be more of a tactical kicking contest than a helter-skelter affair. This will play into the host’s hands nicely, though Gregor Townsend’s men will definitely be looking to target what could be a vulnerable England forward pack.
Last year’s tie in Edinburgh saw England claim a narrow 13-6 win. The last time the sides clashed at Twickenham, the epic 38-all thriller ensued which saw the Scotsmen come back from 31-points down before England eventually salvaged a late draw.
Scotland last beat England at Twickenham in 1983.
The hosts’ superior depth and endearing class should carry them to a narrow win. Scotland will huff and puff, but Jones’ world class structures will ensure they don’t blow the Twickenham house down.