Saturday 14 March, Twickenham Stadium, London. Kick off 17:00 GMT. Live TV coverage on the BBC, S4C and RTE in Ireland. Live radio coverage on BBC 5 Live.
Experienced Frenchman Romain Poite, appointed to the ten-man elite referees panel for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, takes charge of the game, while Ireland’s George Clancy is the touch judge.
England: Mike Brown returns after suffering a nasty injury from a clash of heads with Andrea Masi in the win against Italy, and Courtney Lawes, of the monstrous hit and towering line-out catch, replaces George Kruis. Forwards Kieran Brookes, Geoff Parling and Tom Woods return to the match-day squad. Stuart Lancaster told the Daily Telegraph: “It is good to have Geoff and Tom back. They still have a voice even on the bench. Geoff was one of the last to speak in the huddle after training. That sort of leadership is so important because we know that Scotland will come at us with everything.”
Scotland: Scotland make five changes to the team that lost to Italy. Winger Dougie Fife and Matt Scott take the places of Sean Lamont and Alex Dunbar, who have knee injuries, David Denton replaces Johnnie Beattie at back row, Finn Russell comes in for Peter Horne at fly-half and Jim Hamilton takes the place of Tim Swinson at lock. Head coach Vern Cotter said: “Jim comes in and will physicality and understanding of English rugby to our forward pack.”
England: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Anthony Watson (Bath), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Luther Burrell (Northampton), Jack Nowell (Exeter); George Ford (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Dan Cole (Leicester), Dave Attwood (Bath), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), James Haskell (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (captn) (Harlequins, capt), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).
Replacements: Tom Youngs (Leicester), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle), Geoff Parling (Leicester), Tom Wood (Northampton), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Danny Cipriani (Sale), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester).
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Dougie Fife (Edinburgh), Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (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 (Edinburgh) and Greig Tonks (Edinburgh).
England: George Ford, who has been so impressive in his first major international tournament, should again be pivtoal and scrum half Ben Youngs also has an important role to play in unpicking the Scotland defence after the Ireland game, in which Sexton showed what Leicester Tigers player can lack in the kicking department. Courtney Lawes will provide bruising physicality on his return and England fans will hope that Jonathan Joseph, this year’s leading try scorer with three, can recreate some of the twinkletoes magic he has shown so far in the tournament, especially in his try against Italy.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg has been one of the bright sparks of the Scotland team this tournament, showing great feet on several occasions to break the opposition line. For Scotland have, despite having lost all three games, played some fluid, running rugby this tournament, and Hogg has been at the heart of that. If England’s backs don’t have their wits about them, or if Scotland find that little bit of composure and extra quality in the opposition 22 which has been missing, England could be in for an upset.
England captain Chris Robshaw: “We were let down with the way we performed last week, and we want to get our standards back up.
“We’ve fixed it up now. We come into this game fresh and we’re raring to get back into. There has been a reaction this week.
“We’re looking forward to being back at Twickenham. I’m sure it’s going to be a full house and quite an atmosphere.”
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw: “I’ve always thought highly of the England players but seeing them down there just shows me that we can win. They are not invincible, that’s definitely not the case.
“I believe they are good players but you look at Glasgow Warriors when they played Bath in Europe this season and how well they did.
“We’re not far away from getting things right but I’m getting pretty sick of telling people that, I really am. It’s up to us as players to step up, go again and put in that performance against England.
“We have had some tough talking from the coaches this week and rightly so since the defeat to Italy — but it has been good as we have been shooting ourselves in the foot a lot of the time and we have to change.”
And Stuart Hogg has further stoked the fires of what is always a fiery encounter, by claiming England are can be self-absorbed and don’t respect Scotland.
He said: “The English are a fantastic team but they’re pretty much all about themselves at times. They don’t really respect us and we find that pretty frustrating.
“There will be a certain number of people that do respect us but, no matter how good our performance is, on the whole they don’t.
“We’re not really in a position to make them respect us when we’re zero wins from three, so for that to happen we need to go down there and shut them up with a great performance and a big win.”
England turned Scotland over on their own turf, with the hosts embarrassingly failing to register a single point, losing 20-0. Tries from Luther Burrell and Mike Brown even meant Owen Farrell could afford to miss three kickable penalties.
England: England travelled to the Aviva Stadium and lost 19-9 in what could ultimately prove to be the tie that decides this Six Nations, as Connor Murray and Jonathan Sexton provided a masterclass in half-back play and Robbie Henshaw beat Alex Goode to Murray’s box kick in the corner to grab the crucial try.
Scotland: Scotland lost for the third time in the tournament as they eventually succumbed to a late penalty try from Italy. Mark Bennett’s try put Scotland ahead, Italy replied through Joshua Furno and Giovambattista Venditti. Scotland seemed to have gained control of the match through Greig Laidlaw’s 14 points with the boot, but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as they allowed Italy to put pressure on at the death, which resulted in a penalty try.
England looked to put the loss to Ireland behind them this week with an intense 15 v 15 contact session this week, which turned out heated enough that Stuart Lancaster had to intervene to avoid matters resembling a Top Gear production meeting. Lancaster told the Daily Telegraph: “I had to calm it down. You can describe it as a backlash or whatever you want. We had 15 on 15 and both sides out there brought an edge.”
A Scotland victory would be their first win at Twickenham since 1983.
Despite losing all three games, Scotland have a points difference of just minus 13 and have scored four tries – one more than leaders Ireland.
The home side go into the game strong favourites.
Three losses from three gives a slightly unfair reflection on Scotland’s performance this campaign, so expect them to be up for the battle, as always in the Calcutta Cup. However, England’s quality should shine through in the end.
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