Scotland back Sean Lamont wary of new-look England

 

Sean Lamont is wary of Scotland shedding their underdog tag ahead of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener with a new-look England.

In repeating an oft-heard phrase from the camp this week, the Scarlets back believes it is time for the Scotland team to deliver in the tournament.

However, Lamont talked up the calibre of the England team, led by one-cap skipper Chris Robshaw, overseen by interim head coach Stuart Lancaster and who are unfancied in some quarters.

The uncapped Phil Dowson has been named at number eight, while experienced fly-half Charlie Hodgson will line up inside Saracens team-mates Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt, who will both be making their debuts in midfield opposite Lamont in the Calcutta Cup clash.

Lamont, who has 60 caps and is set to line up at inside centre on Saturday, told Press Association Sport: "We've got to be extra careful, because they are the unknown at this stage.

"We cannot be complacent, we've got to be on our guard, we've got to be aware of what they bring.

"They've got a very dangerous back three, a new midfield - but those guys play together week in, week out for Sarries.

"We've got a good set of boys here, with some good experience and young guys coming through, but we're not a team who can just rock up on the day.

"We've just got to enforce our game - out physical them, out work them, low errors, low penalties and that's how we've got to do it."

Lamont's anger was plain - and expletive laden - after he came off the bench in last February's loss to Wales to be one of Scotland's few above-par performers that day.

Rather than rouse his team-mates from their slumber and spark a realising of potential, Scotland went on to avoid the wooden spoon with a defeat of Italy in their final game, before being eliminated from the Rugby World Cup at the group stage for the first time.

A loss to England in Auckland sealed Scotland's fate and still rankles with head coach Andy Robinson, who labelled some of his compatriots "arrogant" for their behaviour after the contest.

Lamont rued familiar failings and insists Scotland must learn to win, even at the expense of the expansive game Robinson is attempting to foster.

"It was standard stuff - missed chances, we should've, could've, would've," the 31-year-old said.

"Myself and all the boys are sick of saying that. I'd rather just have the win.

"Scotland have had a lot of the old gallant runners-up. It doesn't wash any more. It's time to put Ws on the scoresheet.

"That is what it comes down to. It doesn't matter if we play ugly rugby and win 3-0, a win's a win and that's what we need."

Scotland are seeking just a second opening day win in 13 attempts in the tournament and to improve Robinson's record of two wins and a draw in 10 Six Nations games as head coach.

It would all be easier if the perennial issue of try-scoring can be resolved. In the 2011 Six Nations, Scotland scored three tries against France - but were chasing the game throughout - one against England and two against Italy, while being stopped short of the line against Wales and Ireland. In the World Cup, Scotland scored four tries against Romania and drew blanks against Georgia, Argentina and England.

Lamont attributes at least some of the try shyness to the presence in the team of metronomic kicker Chris Paterson, who retired from internationals in December.

Lamont said: "Because we've had such good kickers over the years, when teams give away penalties we nudge over the points.

"Tries make it easier, but whenever we get into the 22 we've been coming away with the points, which in tight games can make a big difference.

"Yes, it would be nice to be scoring pretty tries. But I'd still take an ugly win with a 3-0 victory without any pretty rugby against a loss.

"I'd rather go for the functional, the one that works and the simple stuff that will get us a win."

If Scotland prevail, they would extend England's wait for a first win in Edinburgh since 2004.

Lamont added: "Fingers crossed it keeps going. I'd love to put them to the sword.

"That would be the ideal start for us."

PA

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