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England bank on two advantages versus 'red-hot favourites' Scotland

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

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England boss Eddie Jones is banking on two particular areas of play tipping the balance in his team’s favour when they take on “red-hot favourites” Scotland on Saturday in the opening round of the Guinness Six Nations. The Scots enter the championship on a wave of optimism following recent improvements under Gregor Townsend

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This hype has left Jones insisting that England are underdogs for the Edinburgh Six Nations clash but he has explained why he thinks a young team showing seven changes from the XV that defeated the Springboks last time out can thrive and get their latest campaign off to a winning start.   

England finished in fifth place – one place below Scotland – in last year’s championship, a tournament where the Scots won at Twickenham for the first time since 1983, but Jones reckons the set-piece and aerial battles can be decisively tipped the way of his team and that will be enough to give them victory on this occasion. 

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Asked what is giving him confidence that England can win, Jones said: “Every game we are like that [expected to win] but this is a special game, isn’t it? It’s a special game, the Calcutta Cup. I think it has been going for 143 years, it means a lot to both countries and it is the first time I have gone there at Murrayfield as the underdogs. 

“Scotland are red-hot favourites. They have got to cope with that expectation, there is 62,000 fans and then they will be thinking about all the fans on BBC television that are watching the game, so they have got to carry that burden. Every game is the same for us, we are expected to win. It’s no different for us. 

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“We have had a really good preparation. We have got a young team but a very good team. We have got enough in our set-piece to get an advantage and we feel that if we get some good quality ball we will be able to use it particularly well and then aerially we have got a very strong team with Max (Malins), Joe Marchant and Freddie (Steward) at the back.”

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Jones has been in charge of England since 2016 and this Saturday is his fourth Six Nations game away to Scotland. He heads there with a record of two wins and one loss, having triumphed in 2016 and 2018 and been beaten in 2018. 

“It is the first time I have been in the experience of going up there with Scotland as red-hot favourites. They are expected to win. Every time the players look at the crowd at Murrayfield they will feel that expectation. They are expected to win, they are red-hot favourites so they have got to cope with that,” he continued. 

“We are very equipped. We are young but we are a good side. We have had a really good preparation. We have had a few obstacles thrown at us but we have coped with it really well. The side has come together well, tactically and socially and emotionally and we can’t wait to get up there – and the best thing about it is we are going to play in Scottish weather”

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