Six Nations preview: England v Scotland

A look ahead to Six Nations clash between England and Scotland

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The Independent Online

England will be eager to bounce back from the defeat they suffered in Dublin and keep their title aspirations alive when they host struggling Scotland at Twickenham in their penultimate Six Nations match.

The hosts sit in second place in the Six Nations table after losing to Ireland two weeks ago, but they will be able to reclaim top spot with a win on Saturday evening, if Wales overcome Ireland in Cardiff.  

England coach Stuart Lancaster has made two changes to his starting line up ahead of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash.

Courtney Lawes reclaims his place England engine room, at the expense of George Kruis, while Mike Brown takes over from Alex Goode at full back.

Kieran Brookes, Geoff Parling and Tom Wood all return to the match-day squad after recovering from injuries, they start on the bench.

Northampton’s Lawes, who missed England’s first three Six Nations fixtures with an ankle injury, will make his first international appearance since featuring in England’s win over Australia in November.

Brown was ruled out of the Ireland defeat after sustaining a concussion against Italy on February 14, but was deemed fit enough to return after completing a contact session last Friday.

Brookes replaces Henry Thomas on the bench and Wood takes over from the injured Tom Croft.

Parling has not featured in the Six Nations for two years but he starts on the bench after recovering from knee ligament damage.

 

In the build up to Saturday’s match, England have placed emphasis on improving their work at the breakdown after they were bullied into conceding 22 turnovers and 13 penalties at the Aviva Stadium.

But the visitors will be determined to front up against the formidable English forwards after they were mauled into submission at Murrayfield by a ruthless Italian pack.   

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has made five changes to his Scotland starting XV, as his side search for their first Six Nations success of the season.

In the pack, Tim Swinson and Johnnie Beattie drop to the bench to make way for Jim Hamilton and Dave Denton.

Fin Russell returns from suspension to start at fly half, while Dougie Fife and Matt Scott are restored to the backline in the absence of injured duo Sean Lamont and Alex Dunbar, who both miss out due to knee complaints.

Saracen’s Hamilton joins Jonny Gray in the second row, while Denton, who has not played for Scotland since coming on as a substitute against New Zealand in November 2014, starts at eight.

Blair Cowan and Rob Harley start together for the sixth successive time in the back row alongside Denton.

Russell has completed the two-week ban he was retrospectively awarded for a dangerous tackle on Dan Biggar against Wales on February 15. He reclaims the no 10 jersey from his club teammate Peter Horne.

Euan Murray will equal Alan Jacobsen’s all-time appearance record for a Scotland prop, when he wins his 65 cap at Saturday.  

Ben Toolis and Hamish Watson have been dropped from the match-day squad after they finished their debuts against Italy in the sin bin.

KICK-OFF: Saturday, 17.00

PAST THREE MEETINGS…

Scotland 0 England 20, Six Nations February 2014

England 38 Scotland 18, Six Nations, February 2013

Scotland 6 England 13, Six Nations, February 2012

STATS…

England have not lost to Scotland since February 2006.

England have made 469 tackles in this year’s competition, more than any other team.

Scotland have not won at Twickenham since 1983.

Scotland have conceded 38 penalties and been awarded four yellow cards in their last three games.

ODDS…

England to win: 1.07

Scotland to win: 8.0

Draw: 41.0

TV: Live on BBC 1 at 17.00

Teams:

England: M Brown (Harlequins); A Watson (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), L Burrell (Northampton), J Nowell (Exeter); G Ford (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), D Attwood (Bath), C Lawes (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: T Youngs (Leicester), M Vunipola (Saracens), K Brookes (Newcastle), G Parling (Leicester), T Wood (Northampton), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), D Cipriani (Sale), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester).

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Dougie Fife (Edinburgh), Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell (both Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (captn) (Gloucester); Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Saracens), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish) David Denton (Edinburgh).

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant (both Glasgow Warriors), Geoff Cross (London Irish), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier), Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Greig Tonks (both Edinburgh)

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