Simon Mail previews this weekend's Six Nations clash at Murrayfield with Scotland hosting champions England in the Calcutta Cup...
"England have been dominant in their games against Scotland with victories in their last eight meetings. Scotland's 15-9 win at Murrayfield in 2008 was the last time England lost to their rivals and the head-to-head record suggests the visitors should again have the upper hand."
Scotland v England
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England have come through their first two games in this year's Six Nations but the defending champions face a tough examination this weekend with a trip to Murrayfield to face Scotland in the Calcutta Cup. Eddie Jones' side are still on course for an unprecedented third successive title but their opponents could have a significant say in this if they manage to secure their first win over England for ten years.
Scotland came into this season's championship full of optimism and expectation after a strong end to last year which featured a record win over Australia. But Gregor Townsend's side were embarrassed on the opening day after their dismal 34-7 defeat in Wales. Scotland responded in the second match with the boot of Greig Laidlaw proving the difference in their 32-26 home win over France.
Townsend has opted to pick the same team which defeated France in their last game. The only changes come on the bench with Willem Nel back in the squad after the prop recovered from his broken arm suffered in November. It is a show of faith in the Scotland side after their last victory although there is no doubt the hosts will have to raise their level of performance to overcome the Six Nations favourites.
England came through their opener in Italy easily enough but were tested severely by Wales after edging to a 12-6 win at Twickenham in their last game. The hosts made a fast start and two early tries from Jonny May put them in front but they were holding on in the second half when they failed to score any points. Without playing near their best, England found a way to win yet again which extended their record under Jones to 24 wins from 25 games.
Jones makes one change to the team with Nathan Hughes starting at number eight in place of the injured Sam Simmonds. Hughes has made a quick recovery from his knee ligament injury after an intensive conditioning course over the last few weeks. Captain Dylan Hartley will become England's second most capped player with this weekend's game his 92nd appearance which overtakes Jonny Wilkinson.
England have been dominant in their games against Scotland with victories in their last eight meetings. Scotland's 15-9 win at Murrayfield in 2008 was the last time England lost to their rivals and the head-to-head record suggests the visitors should again have the upper hand. But Scotland have won eight of their last nine home matches with their only defeat coming in a 22-17 loss to New Zealand November.
There is little doubt this will represent England's toughest trip to Scotland for a decade and recent visits have been far from comfortable with Jones' side winning 15-9 two years ago and the visitors edged to a 13-6 victory in 2012. It would be no surprise if the scoreline this weekend followed a similar path with England's relentless winning mentality and belief likely to settle a game of fine margins. The best bet could be to back England to win by no more than 12 points at 6/4.
It could also be worth backing Jonathan Joseph to score at generous odds. The England back has an excellent record against Scotland scoring four tries in three appearances. Joseph's pace and power was too much for the Scots last season, as he scored a hat-trick and he can reward Jones' faith, in picking him ahead of Ben Te'o, by crossing the line and helping England to another win over their rivals.
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