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RBS 6 Nations 2012: Scotland v England Preview

Scotland face England at Murrayfield on the evening of Saturday 4 February 2012 as both sides look to get their RBS 6 Nations 2012 campaign off to a winning start.

With Scotland having retained more of their experienced players – and their Scotland A side having resoundingly defeated England Saxons last night – the Scots have never looked as likely to record a Calcutta Cup win before the match for many a year.

England are a side in transition. New coach: Stuart Lancaster. New captain: the once capped Chris Robshaw. New players all round, after a slew of international retirements, and two high profile disciplinary suspensions in Armitage and Care. All of which spell a much weakened England to that which defeated the Scots – narrowly – in Rugby World Cup 2011; and a vastly different team to the experienced campaigners who lifted this trophy but twelve months ago under Martin Johnson.

Scotland, on the other hand, have plenty of continuity from previous slowly improving seasons under coach Andy Robinson. While they will miss the kicking of Paterson, who retired after RWC 2011, his loss is softened by the continued presence of Dan Parks at 10, and Rory Lamont at full-back, who is arguably better with ball in hand than the aging Paterson.

Where Scotland have real strength, though, it is in the experience of their front three, who have an average of over 50 caps each between them. This, and their defensive abilities are what have tended to help them grind out results – or almost results – in recent seasons.

What Scotland have lacked in competitive rugby union has been a player who can cross the try line. While that does not appear to have changed a great deal, they certainly have not lost anything in defence, and, with Murrayfield set to be in good heart with a sell-out crowd having been entertained all afternoon, it is evenings like this at home where Scotland are able to find that extra something that finds them five points.

Last year, at home, against Ireland, Scotland should have won – and would have but for an early aberration in defence when they had not quite got their minds focussed. Expect no repeat of that in this, their most important match of the year.

England’s work is cut out: they need to get tries, plural, if they are to pick up a result in Edinburgh. With finishers like Ashton still in the squad, there is nothing to suggest they cannot do that, providing they can keep moving the ball freely – something the Scots will look to prevent.

A yellow card for either side could prove crucial today in what looks, on paper, like a 5 point game.

This fascinating encounter is exactly what Calcutta Cups – and 6 Nations Championships – are all about.

An excellent prospect for rugby fans lies in wait – even if the points total may well stay below 30.

Scotland v England – RBS 6 Nations 2012 Starting Line-ups

Scotland Starting XV

  • 15 Rory Lamont
  • 14 Lee Jones
  • 13 Nick De Luca
  • 12 Sean Lamont
  • 11 Max Evans
  • 10 Dan Parks
  • 9 Chris Cusiter
  • 1 Allan Jacobsen
  • 2 Ross Ford (C)
  • 3 Euan Murray
  • 4 Richie Gray
  • 5 Jim Hamilton
  • 6 Alasdair Strokosch
  • 7 Ross Rennie
  • 8 David Denton

Scotland Replacements

  • 16 Scott Lawson
  • 17 Geoff Cross
  • 18 Alastair Kellock
  • 19 John Barclay
  • 20 Mike Blair
  • 21 Greig Laidlaw
  • 22 Graeme Morrison
England Starting XV

  • 15 Ben Foden
  • 14 Chris Ashton
  • 13 Brad Barritt
  • 12 Owen Farrell
  • 11 David Strettle
  • 10 Charlie Hodgson
  • 9 Ben Youngs
  • 1 Alex Corbisiero
  • 2 Dylan Hartley
  • 3 Dan Cole
  • 4 Mouritz Botha
  • 5 Tom Palmer
  • 6 Tom Croft
  • 7 Chris Robshaw (C)
  • 8 Phil Dowson

England Replacements

  • 16 Rob Webber
  • 17 Matt Stevens
  • 18 Geoff Parling
  • 19 Ben Morgan
  • 20 Lee Dickson
  • 21 Jordan Turner-Hall
  • 22 Mike Brown

Scotland v England kicks off at 17:00 GMT (18:00 CET) on Saturday 4th February 2012, at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Stories from the Sport Desk at The Global Herald.

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