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Six Nations | Group Stage
Feb 24, 2024 at 4.45pm UK
van der Merwe (20', 30', 45')
Furbank (5'), Feyi-Waboso (67')

Preview: Scotland vs. England - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Six Nations clash between Scotland and England, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Scotland and their arch-enemies England will resume their 2024 Six Nations campaigns when they face off in the Calcutta Cup in what should be an intense atmosphere at Murrayfield this weekend.

Given that England are trailing Ireland by a mere two points in second place (eight), and Scotland are third with five points, this match is of critical importance in determining which team will rival the formidable reigning champions in this year's competition.

Match preview

Scotland's Huw Jones reacts on February 3, 2024© Reuters

Scotland will undoubtedly still be feeling the sting from the highly contentious finish to their match against France a fortnight ago, where they saw what would have been a dramatic last-minute winning try chalked off by the TMO.

That followed a far from convincing opening match of the competition, where they led Wales by 27 points early in the second half but were clinging on for dear life in the closing stages and just about held on to come away with a slender one-point victory.

Nevertheless, Gregor Townsend's side will welcome England to Murrayfield with confidence, having beaten them in the last two instalments of the Six Nations and three times across all competitions.

A third successive Calcutta Cup will not only boost the Scots' morale after their round two disappointment but will also create a genuine belief that they could be the closest challengers to Ireland this year, especially with France dropping off a level without their influential leader Antoine Dupont.

After being considered underdogs in this fixture for many years, Scotland are now the favourites to secure a fourth consecutive win over England, but it is worth noting that each of the last five games between these nations were decided by seven or fewer points.

England's Tom Curry leaves the pitch as he is substituted off on October 21, 2023© Reuters

While England head into this match in second place in the standings and still unbeaten, they have failed to pick up any bonus points as yet and were far from convincing in either of their first two matches.

On the opening weekend of the tournament, England narrowly defeated Italy 27-24 in Rome, and in round two, they once again scraped their way to victory, narrowly holding off Wales 16-14 at Twickenham.

On the positive, though, despite trailing the Dragons by nine points at half time, Steve Borthwick's side came back well in the second half to win that match, marking the joint biggest half-time deficit they have ever overcome in a Test match in the process.

Still, England's attack has been lacklustre over the first two games, and the intensity and passion that was evident towards the end of their World Cup campaign have yet to be seen in this competition.

Despite their poor record in this fixture in recent years, the last time England beat Scotland was at this venue back in 2017, and a victory in this match will not only extend their winning streak in this year's Six Nations but will also solidify their position as contenders for the crown.

Scotland Six Nations form:

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  • L

Scotland form (all competitions):

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  • W
  • W
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  • W
  • L

England Six Nations form:

  • W
  • W

England form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Scotland's Rory Darge celebrates scoring their fourth try with teammates on September 29, 2023© Reuters

Townsend has made three changes to his starting line-up for the upcoming Calcutta Cup clash against England in the Six Nations, with Kyle Steyn, Jamie Ritchie and Blair Kinghorn all being included in Scotland's starting 15.

Co-captain Finn Russell teams up with Ben White, who ran in the opening try in their previous match, in the half-back positions, and the pair will be key to the Scots' aspirations for a win on home soil.

There are no changes in the front five, with Grant Gilchrist and Scott Cummings retaining their positions as locks and Pierre Schoeman, Zander Fagerson and George Turner forming the front row.

Borthwick, on the other hand, has made five changes to his starting 15, headlined by the somewhat surprising selection of Northampton Saints' George Furbank over Freddie Steward at full-back.

Vice-captain Maro Itoje is paired with Ollie Chessum in the lock positions, while the back row consists of Ethan Roots, who is making his third appearance at flank, along with Sam Underhill and Ben Earl.

Experienced scrum-half Danny Care partners with vice-captain George Ford in the half-back positions, with Ollie Lawrence making a comeback after injury to join Henry Slade in the midfield pairing.

Scotland starting lineup: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (cc), 9 Ben White, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge (cc), 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman

Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Andy Christie, 21 George Horne, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Cameron Redpath

England starting lineup: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Danny Care, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George (c), 1 Ellis Genge

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 George Martin, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso

SM words green background

We say: Scotland 27-24 England

Matches between these familiar foes tend to be decided by slender margins, and we are expecting something similar here. While neither side has been convincing as yet in the competition, Scotland seem the more settled of the two, and we feel they will edge the result in front of their home fans.

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England's Chandler Cunningham-South and Theo Dan celebrate after the match on February 2, 2024
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