Free Picks: Scotland vs. England RBS Six Nations

Richard O'Hagan

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 7:33 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 7:33 PM GMT

Both sides were beaten in their opening Six Nations encounters, so both go into Saturday’s Calcutta Cup game even more desperate than usual to come away with the ancient trophy.

Free Picks: Ireland vs. Wales RBS Six Nations

Scotland got off to the worst possible start in the 2014 RBS Six Nations. Whilst there is no shame in losing your opening fixture, doing so in the way that they did to Ireland was positively discouraging. They lacked invention and ideas in the backs, their scrum was woefully underpowered and they made critical errors at key moments of the game. Their only real solace came from their defensive showing, which was outstanding at times.

England’s narrow defeat in France came about more because of coaching error than anything that the side did on the pitch. Indeed, for much of the game they were the better team in Paris. However, for much of that time they were also behind, as two tries by French winger Yoann Huget early in the game left them chasing the match. Both of those tries came due to the inexperience of England’s backs, where the three-quarter line was three-quarters debutants; by the time Johnny May, Luther Burrell and Jack Nowell had adjusted to the pace of international rugby, Huget had crossed the line twice.

Free Picks: France vs. Italy RBS Six Nations

Then, once England had taken the lead, coach Stuart Lancaster baffling replaced all of their best players and then compounded the error by taking off Nowell, meaning that Burrell had to play out of position for the final few minutes – a situation exploited to the full by the French to bring about Gael Fickou’s matchwinning try.

England showed enough in that performance to indicate that they are not out of the competition yet, even if their Grand Slam hopes are gone. For this game they are 1.17 favourites at PaddyPower, whilst Scotland, despite being the hosts, are as long as 6.51 with Betfair.

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