Gregor Townsend believes Scotland will be able to beat England if they can repeat their performance from their opening weekend defeat against Ireland and learn to take their chances, with the two Calcutta Cup rivals bidding for their first win in this year’s championship.
Scotland suffered a 19-12 defeat in Dublin despite enjoying the better chances throughout the clash, with captain Stuart Hogg suffering the ignominy of dropping the ball on the line as he reached out to score a try.
England also made a losing start in their 24-17 defeat in Paris, where at one stage France led 24-0 with 56 minutes on the clock, and the World Cup finalists have this week talked up their preparations for a “war” at Murrayfield on Saturday.
“We were proud of parts of our performance in Dublin at a very difficult venue,” Townsend said on Thursday after making one change to his side with fit-again Magnus Bradbury starting at No 8 and Nick Haining dropping to the bench.
“The challenge for the squad is to replicate that level and take our chances when they come, in order to win tight games.
“We were disappointed not to beat Ireland but the opportunity to face England, against whom we are bidding to retain the Calcutta Cup, is one that excites players, coaches and supporters alike.”
England looked a shadow of the side that reached the final in Japan three months ago, with a much-improved performance required if they are to get back to winning ways this weekend. Townsend though held back the punches that have been flying throughout the week between the two sides as he claimed England’s run to the final came as a justified reward for their performances.
“England are an excellent team whose run to the Rugby World Cup final was no fluke,” he added. “They will be smarting from their opener in Paris and Eddie will have them primed to come to Edinburgh and put in an improved performance.
“This famous fixture is one that stands out given the history surrounding it and we will have to be at our very best to stand a chance of winning against our oldest rivals.”
Scotland team to face England:
Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson; Stuart Cummings, Jonny Gray; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Nick Haining, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Chris Harris.