Six Nations Key Clash Preview: Scotland v England


England suffered a heart-breaking last minute loss to France in Paris last week while Scotland were embarrassed by Ireland. England have one of the strongest packs in the world while Scotland’s went backwards fast last week. Who’s your money on to win the Calcutta Cup?

Well it won’t be as easy as you think. This is England, and the whole of Scotland, let alone the 15 men on the pitch, will come out fighting. Add that to the crumbling Murrayfield pitch and the scoreline could be closer than you think.


There’s good and bad news for Scottish fans. The bad news is that Ross Ford is still starting despite trending on Twitter last week, and not for the right reasons. The good news is that Scott Johnson has finally picked a proper openside, albeit at Kelly Brown’s expense. Chris Fusaro is the man that comes in at seven and if domestic form is anything to go by, he could rule the breakdown over the strong English backrow.

There are only two other changes to the starting lineup. One of them is forced as Tommy Seymour replaces the injured Sean Maitland on the wing, but Scotland fans can rejoice once again as Matt Scott makes his return to the midfield. Scott should provide the attacking platform that is desperately needed and any try scoring chances will probably go through him or Stuart Hogg.

On the bench, Scott Lawson returns to the squad in place of Pat MacArthur while Jonny Gray gets the nod over big brother Richie. Kelly Brown’s absence from the squad entirely means that Greig Laidlaw will captain the team.


Stuart Lancaster shows how proud he was of his team as he keeps the exact same 23 that put up a fight in France; this means that there is still no specialist 10 on the bench though despite many calling for George Ford to be in the squad.

The only notable inclusion is that of Jonny May even though he broke his nose nine minutes into the match last week. Wasps man Matt Mullan is also travelling up to Edinburgh so there must be concerns over the fitness of either Joe Marler or Mako Vunipola.

Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell continue their burgeoning partnership in the centres, with May and Nowell outside them. Mike Brown will be hoping to play more of the game this week in his preferred position of fullback.

All eyes on

Keeping your captain out of the matchday squad is something that tends to be quite rare nowadays, so a lot of faith is being put in Chris Fusaro. Calls for his inclusion have been long-standing after a couple of brilliant seasons with Glasgow and he can be the man to help fix Scotland’s problems at the breakdown.

Debut nerves and jitters should have disappeared now for Jack Nowell and he will hope to have a similar game to last week’s second half. He faces off against Sean Lamont who may not be as quick as Nowell, but if the Ireland game is anything to go by, Nowell should have put in some tackling practise to help contain the Scot’s physicality.

Head to head: Matt Scott v Billy Twelvetrees

Matt Scott and Billy Twelvetrees are two players who are part of the modern-era centre mould. They are both comfortable with either acting as playmaker or trucking the ball up to help their team get over the gainline, and they both possess large frames but are sprightly enough on their feet to trouble opposition defences. Chances are it will be a forward battle on Saturday but if either of these players gets the ball, expect the game to liven up.


Penalty, penalty, penalty, TMO, penalty, penalty, is probably how the game is going to go and expect the back-three to get pretty cold in the Scottish weather. When all is said and done, it’s going to be the team with the best discipline that wins the match. The ball will be slippery, tackles will be missed and it won’t go down as one of the classic Calcutta Cup matches. England to win by 9.

By Calum Gillon (@C_Gillon)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

6 thoughts on “Six Nations Key Clash Preview: Scotland v England

  1. Not expecting an epic but have a feeling england will try running the ball no matter the conditions. Hope may gets a few more minutes than last week!

  2. Key man Lawes, from my point of view I’m hoping he does make Ford wish he was dropped and really disrupts the lineout.

    Pitch and conditions likely to be a leveller and negate what I see to be England’s main advantage (athleticism and mobility of a large pack).

    England by 3.

  3. England by 12.

    England’s pack is strong – if last week’s performance was anything to go by they will have no issue with keeping the balls to themselves as long as they like and leaving their back three out cold. Even with Fusaro in the squad I don’t think Scotland have it in them to compete at the breakdown well enough to hold back that pack – and their set piece is presently appalling.

    I think the back lines will balance out in this weather and pitch conditions. It will be decided by the forwards. The Scottish pack will have to put on a hugely improved performance to not lose by double figures.

  4. If observers and enthusiasts can predict the issues, one is left wondering exactly how Scott
    Johnson selects his teams?
    As we all acknowledge the Scottish pack is likely to be at a disadvantage in the set piece and it is expecting a great deal of a debutant #7 to be effective against a pack going forward.
    We must all hope that Vern Cotter brings much more ability and hard edged experience to the job than the homespun delivery and homilies of Johnson.
    If not I suspect a few more years of ” we underperformed but will get better”

  5. All eyes should be on Twelvetrees. He was lamentable last week. Re-watching the game showed his inability to pass, kick, use an overlap and stand up rather than slipping. I hope this was a one off.
    Scotland’s pack was bad last week, poor old Ford needs a similar rebirth to 12Trees!

  6. A very tight game. We know Scotland will be extremely motivated after their defeat to Ireland last week and Murrayfield is a difficult ground to go to as well as facing a motivated Scotland. I think England by one score will win. Scottish use patriotism to their advantage.

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