England: England are top of the Six Nations table after three consecutive victories over France, Wales and Italy. Only Scotland and Ireland stand between them and an historic, second consecutive Grand Slam. They’re currently the form team in world rugby with 17 successive Test victories, still unbeaten with Eddie Jones at the helm.
Scotland: Scotland have been mightily impressive in the first three rounds, opening their Six Nations account with a 27-22 victory over Ireland. They fell to a narrow 22-16 defeat to France at the Stade de France but got back to winning ways with an eye-catching 29-13 triumph over Wales in Round Three at BT Murrayfield.
Since England’s victory over Italy a fortnight ago, much has been made about how the players reacted to the Azzurri’s tactics at the breakdown, tackle and ruck area. Jones will be keen to put that behind him, and refocus his players on the task at hand against an energetic, willing Scottish outfit. His side rightly begin the encounter as the bookmakers’ favourites, 5/8 to be leading after 20 minutes.
England will be boosted by the expected return of Saracens’ Billy Vunipola to the back-row, and the Number 8 is expected to play some part of proceedings, either from the start or as a ‘finisher’. The hosts have several in-form players going into the weekend, with Joe Launchbury and Owen Farrell particularly catching the eye over recent games. A forward is 7/4 to open the try-scoring on Saturday, and the Wasps lock – man-of-the-match against Italy – could be worth a punt.
Vern Cotter’s Scotland are now fifth in the world rankings – their highest-ever position – and in the New Zealander’s last campaign in charge, his side have played with a freedom and expression to delight the Scottish faithful. Although they haven’t won at Twickenham since 1983, and are without captain Greig Laidlaw and Josh Strauss through injury, this is the most exciting Scotland side the Six Nations has seen since their title-winning class of 1999. They should put in a more than competitive performance on Saturday, and they’re 15/8 to score the first try.
Scotland – 11/2 to win by 1-12 points - have a number of key personnel full of confidence. Full-back Stuart Hogg is the tournament’s joint top try-scorer with three tries, and second-row Jonny Gray is the tournament’s top tackler with 52.
However, England are rightly odds-on to prevail. Although they’re coming up against an ever-improving, inspired Scottish outfit, expect the home side to edge this encounter. Just. If they can build a lead in the early stages and keep the scoreboard ticking over, they will hope that secures the victory needed to travel to Dublin to challenge Ireland for a Grand Slam on the final day of the championship. No four-try bonus points here, they’ll just be happy with the victory.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: England to win by 1-12 points – 13/8
*Please note that odds may fluctuate in the run up to the game.