ENGLAND v SCOTLAND, TWICKENHAM STADIUM IN LONDON, SATURDAY 16th MARCH 2019.
Kick-off 5pm. Watch live on ITV (UK), FR2 (France), Virgin Media (Ireland), DMAX (Italy), NBC (USA).
England: Elliot Daly; Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Ben Moon, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola. Substitutes: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Dan Cole, Brad Shields, Nathan Hughes, Ben Spencer, George Ford, Ben Te’o.
Scotland: Seam Maitland; Darcy Graham, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Byron McGuigan; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally©, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury. Substitutes: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, Greig Laidlaw, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
In an effort to stop his team being distracted by the permutations, Eddie Jones has spent this week telling anybody who will listen that this is a one-off grudge match between two teams who really don’t like each other: complaining about Scottish conduct before, during and after last year’s match, and by mocking their unimpressive record at Twickenham. It is good knock-about stuff, and we’ll see how effective it has been by the way England start the match.
For Scotland, it is pretty cut-and-dried. They don’t necessarily need a win – although that would be nice – but they need to produce a positive performance in their last truly competitive outing before the World Cup, after a campaign which has raised big questions about whether the team has the ruthless edge to be anything other than plucky underdogs.
Injuries have been a debilitating factor, but even taking that into account, there remains a sense that Scotland have stalled these last two months, and they simply have to rediscover some of their mojo this weekend or it could get really ugly.
WHAT THEY SAID –
Scotland forwards coach Danny Wilson on banishing the away days blues –
“We’ve got to make sure that we turn up to Twickenham with an away mentality to be physical. From my short time [with Scotland], I have seen us bring that physicality at home and the next challenge for us is to bring that physicality and edge to an away game. I know how the players responded to the last away game, they were not pleased with their performance – this is a chance to put that right. I thought we were physical against Wales last week in patches and I think the boys bounced back in terms of a performance, but obviously not the result we wanted. What has to be at the forefront of our minds this week is that we have to go out and match the physicality that will come from England. We have to bring that physicality.”
“We need to come out of the blocks and take the sting out of the opposition. Hopefully take away the advantage of having the crowd behind them … the atmosphere getting behind England.
“England have started games really well and, being absolutely honest and open, we have to start away games better. If we play tactically the right game and we’re physical in the first 20 minutes, hopefully that takes the sting out of the opposition and takes the sting out of the crowd a bit. That home advantage starts to get nullified. That has to be our start point for away games.”
England head coach Eddie Jones on the Henry Slade and Manu Tuilagi midfield combination –
“The only time, in reality, when you have set positions in the backline now is defending from first phase. Gone are the days when you pass from 10 to 12 to 13 because of the way defences and the way attacks are structured. They’re basically playing as running backs. There was plenty of space at the weekend [against Italy] … if we can create momentum around the ruck this weekend I’d hate to be one of those Scottish backs.
Scotland captain Stuart McInally on whether his team have the nasty streak required to topple England –
“Yeah, I think so. There is stuff you know from working with players day in, day out. I look at our back row, someone like Hamish Watson, and at what he did last week, coming off the bench and performing so well. I know he’s got that edge about him. He’s back in the team and desperate to do well for himself, do well for the team. Magnus Bradbury is another one who has a bit of an edge about him. So I don’t think we lack that side of the game.”
England hooker Jamie George on the significance of the Wales versus Ireland match –
“We’ve been given the choice and I’ll probably watch it – it’s a five o’clock kick-off, so there’s a lot of waiting around – and the reason why I’m allowing myself to watch the game is that I know it won’t change my mind-set or my preparation mentally or physically. I’m confident in knowing that. I guess some guys might not be, so they might not watch it, but it definitely won’t change my outlook on the game.”
THREE KEY CLASHES –
Joe Launchbury v Ben Toolis
There has been a growing clamour for Toolis to be given a chance ahead of the hard-working but one-paced Jonny Gray, and now that the Australian-born second-row has got the nod he needs to reproduce his Edinburgh club form on the big stage. Toolis certainly provides athleticism and work-rate, but is he really hard enough when the skin and hair starts to fly to take the game to the opposition? We will find out today, when he goes up against one of the toughest in the business.
Tom Curry v Hamish Watson
After missing the first three games of this Six Nations campaign with a hand injury, Watson announced his return to the Scotland side with a barnstorming 22-minutes against Wales, beating 10 defenders, which is apparently more than any other Scotland player has ever managed in a Six Nations match. In fact, it was the sixth-most defenders beaten by any player in one game in the championship’s history – not bad for someone who only played a quarter of the game.
Hamish Watson going on the rampage is even better with sound effects! pic.twitter.com/UL6WIJtnaE
— Graham Love (@GLove39) March 12, 2019
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Tom Curry – a big tackler, great over the ball and not averse to the odd powerful run of his own – has now firmly established himself as the solution to England’s long-standing open-side flanker conundrum, and he’ll be determined to sign off his excellent campaign on a high.
Manu Tuilagi v Sam Johnson
Having been dropped last week following a performance in France which dipped below the high standards he had set himself in his first two cap appearances, Johnson has returned to the Scotland No 12 jersey and has been entrusted with keeping England’s midfield powerhouse in check. Tuilagi played brilliantly against Italy last time out, and having just agreed to a contract extension with Leicester Tigers, he is presumably in a pretty good place mentally, so I going to be a real handful.
WHAT THE BOOKIES SAY –
Home win: 1-20
Away win: 20-1
Spread: England -20pts
SCOTLAND’S RECORD AGAINST ENGLAND
Played 136 – Won 43 – Drawn 18 – Lost 75
15 February 1986: Scotland 33 England 6
3 March 2001: England 43 Scotland 3
11 March 2017: England 61 Scotland 21
Six most recent matches
2 February 2013: England 38 Scotland 18
8 February 2014: Scotland 0 England 20
14 March 2015: England 25 Scotland 13
6 February 2016: Scotland 9 England 15
11 March 2017: England 61 Scotland 21
24 February 2018: Scotland 25 England 13
LAST TIME OUT –
A sensational afternoon at Murrayfield which witnessed a Scotland performance of breathtaking derring-do. It was a victory as unexpected as it was glorious.
Scotland had coughed up 61 to the same opposition at Twickenham almost exactly a year to the day earlier, and came into the third match of this 2019 Six Nations campaign in patchy form, having been blown away by Wales in their tournament opener before battling past an uninspiring France at home in their next outing, while England were two from two so far. But it wasn’t just the outcome which had jaws dropping across the rugby playing world, but the manner with which the result was achieved.
One statistic stands-out as a vivid illustration of what Scotland achieved here. After scoring just two tries against England at Murrayfield since the Six Nations began 18 years earlier, Scotland scored three here in the first half, which ended with them 22-6 to the good. Huw Jones scored two either side of a touchdown by Sean Maitland, with Greig Laidlaw converting two after getting the day going with a penalty.
Only three points were added after the break, by a Finn Russell penalty, but crucially England only scored once in the second half as their attempted fightback failed to gain momentum.
Russell banished his blunder-filled recent form with a maestro performance here. In particular, the stand-off’s pass to Jones which launched the attack for Sean Maitland’s try will go down in Scottish rugby folklore as one of the most audacious and skilful pieces of rugby ever exhibited by a player with a thistle on his chest, with Ryan Wilson, John Barclay, Greig Laidlaw, Stuart McInally and Stuart Hogg all making vital contributions to the score.
And it wasn’t just the free-wheeling attacking play which was responsible for the win, Scotland’s work at the breakdown was ferocious and harassed England into coughing up penalties and possession at a remarkable rate.
All in all, it was one of the great Scottish performances of all time, and it was only a year ago. A reminder that the seemingly impossible can happen if you go out ad make your own luck.
England suffered a crisis in confidence after this match, losing their next four matches to France, Ireland and South Africa twice, but they have bounced back in some style during this Six Nations.
Scotland: S Hogg; T Seymour, H Jones, P Horne, S Maitland; F Russell, G Laidlaw; G Reid, S McInally, S Berghan, G Gilchrist, J Gray, J Barclay, R Wilson, H Watson. Subs: S Lawson, J Bhatti, W Nel, T Swinson, D Denton, A Price, N Grigg, B Kinghorn.
England: M Brown; A Watson, J Joseph, O Farrell, J May; G Ford, D Care; M Vunipola, D Hartley, D Cole, J Launchbury, M Itoje, C Lawes, C Robshaw, N Hughes. Subs: J George, J Marler, H WIlliams, G Kruis, S Underhill, R Wigglesworth, B Te’o, J Nowell.
Scotland: Tries: Jones 2, Maitland. Cons: Laidlaw 2. Pens: Laidlaw, Russell.
England: Try: Farrell. Con: Farrell. Pens: Farrell 2.
Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 3-0, 3-3, 8-3, 10-3, 10-6, 15-6, 20-6, 22-6 half-time, 22-11, 22-13, 25-13.
Yellow card –
Referee: N Owens (Wales).