Scotland head to Twickenham on Saturday looking to claim a third straight Championship win over England for the first time since 1970-72, but will be up against a side entering a new chapter in their Six Nations opener.
Eddie Jones finally paid the price for his decreasing returns in the autumn and has been replaced by his former defence coach Steve Borthwick. The 43-year-old vowed to select on form and has done just that, including some new faces and recalling some old ones for the Red Rose.
Opposite number Gregor Townsend has done something similar with his selection by overlooking a couple of British & Irish Lions and, while he divides opinion, has a superb coaching record against England.
The 123rd edition of the Calcutta Cup promises to be a barnstormer, but, on paper at least, Borthwick’s boys look like they will have enough.
England vs Scotland Betting Tips
Borthwick promised to pick on form and has stuck to his word, with Ollie Hassell-Collins selected on the left wing for his debut, while Joe Marchant has been handed the number 13 shirt ahead of Manu Tuilagi.
Ben Curry replaces his injured twin brother Tom at openside flanker and will earn his second cap, but there is more experience in the front row, with Ellis Genge, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler lining up and Mako Vunipola and Dan Cole waiting for their chance from the bench.
Like his counterpart, Townsend has also looked at those performing well for their clubs, with Huw Jones in the side at number 13 ahead of Lions Test starter Chris Harris.
With both Hamish Watson and Rory Darge injured, Luke Crosbie starts at openside for Scotland and scrum-half Ben White’s tactical nous has seen him selected ahead of another Lion, Ali Price, who does not even make the matchday 23.
England to win by 1-12 points inclusive @ 17/10
The last five renewals of the Calcutta Cup have been decided by 12 or less points, with the winning margin decreasing in the last three years. England won by seven points in 2020, before the Scots triumphed by five in 2021 and three last year.
Neither is likely to cut loose in their tournament opener and another tight contest beckons in front of an expectant Twickenham crowd.
There is no doubt that England have failed to produce in their last two matches against Scotland, but the feelgood factor brought on by Borthwick’s appointment could lift them to a first victory over the Auld Enemy in three years.
Huw Jones Anytime Tryscorer @ 11/4
There is, though, the chance that Scotland could score more tries than England and Jones’ selection is not only deserved on form, but it also has a feel of ‘horses for courses’. The 29-year-old is a Calcutta Cup specialist, having scored two tries at Twickenham in 2017 and another brace at Murrayfield the following year.
The University of Cape Town graduate was arguably Scotland’s best available full-back last year but was overlooked due to the presence of Stuart Hogg. Strangely, he was only playing at 15 for Harlequins due to Marchant’s presence in the centres, but he returned to Glasgow in the summer and has excelled since then.
Jones has not gotten over the line as much as he would like for the Warriors, but has made five clean breaks in this season’s United Rugby Championship.
He clearly enjoys playing alongside his club and now international midfield partner Sione Tuipolotu and, having previously thrived at both HQ and down the road at the Stoop, could prove to be a real threat on Saturday.
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