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A Fool’s Hope: Five Reasons Scotland Can Go To Twickenham And Win

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Stuart Hogg of Scotland celebrates at full time during the 6 Nations match between Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield Stadium on February 25, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

All the talk this weekend is surrounding England’s bid for history, as they seek an 18th consecutive test victory, and rightly so. All the while, they pursue a second Grand Slam in a row.

However, Scotland have performed admirably to date in this year’s Championship, and travel to London in search of a first Triple Crown since 1990. Should they spoil the party and bridge a 34-year gap by beating the Red Rose in Twickenham, they will have every chance of securing the most unlikely of Six Nations titles.

England are justifiably favourites, but here are five reasons why Vern Cotter’s charges may just sneak a win.

Form

Take 2016 out of the equation. Which of these sides has been more impressive in the 2017 Six Nations Championship?

England huffed and puffed against France and Wales, and were seriously thrown when a limited Italian side changed things up a bit.

Meanwhile, Scotland have shown composure in their home wins against Ireland and Wales, and had they not suffered so many injuries in Paris, they could have three wins by this point.

Vern Cotter’s side have played the better rugby. They have looked more dangerous going forward, more impressive at the breakdown, and overall the better rugby team across three games.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Tim Visser of Scotland breaks clear to score a try during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield Stadium on February 25, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Tools out wide

England have come through their two more competitive games in the Championship to date, largely due to the fact that France and Wales lacked a spark to break them down at crucial stages.

In Stuart Hogg, Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour, Scotland boast a back three of world class finishers, and can cause the Red Rose serious problems out wide.

Michele Campagnaro showed that a spark is all it takes, and this England back-line were raw in defence; a lack of communication led to the concession of a try.

If the Scottish forwards get on top at the breakdown like they did against Ireland, this will give Finn Russell front foot possession which they can use as a platform to score tries, particularly off the first phase in which they’ve been so lethal to date.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Stuart Hogg of Scotland breaks clear with the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield Stadium on February 25, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Breakdown

The basis of Scotland’s victory over Ireland was quick ball, and slowing down the Irish attack. Finn Russell is one of the top attacking out-halves in the Northern Hemisphere, and given front foot possession, he will move forward and get the ball out wide to his outside backs in space.

England take a more primitive approach to the breakdown, battering the gainline and attempting to clear out the opposition.

In attack, we have seen the Scots prioritise supporting their ball-carrier, while in defence they have the forwards who shoot for the ball.

It will be a fascinating stylistic match-up; attacking the gainline vs attacking the ball. Should Scotland come out on top, they have the tools out wide to do damage.

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 12: Louis Picamoles of France charges towrads Hamish Watson of Scotland during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Scotland at Stade de France on February 12, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Ali Price

Greig Laidlaw’s injury was a blow without a doubt. His place-kicking and leadership skills mean that he is an important part of this Scotland side.

However, Ali Price brings a greater attacking threat. Quicker distribution, sniping runs and keeping the opposition defence on their toes offer Russell and Co. that extra split second on the ball, and it could be crucial.

He is arguably a better match for Scotland’s new-founded swashbuckling, southern hemisphere-esque style of play.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 25: Ali Price of Scotland passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield Stadium on February 25, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Out-half battle

There was a lot of pressure on Russell coming into this Championship. Following Glasgow’s bolt in the Champions Cup, there was an anticipation that he could lead the Scottish back-line in the same vein.

He has not disappointed.

The added pressure of place-kicking has not deterred him.

In George Ford, he will face a different proposition, while Hughes, Haskell and the Vunipolas in the second half will be running down the 10 channel to punch holes.

This will be Russell’s biggest threat to date in the Six Nations, but we have seen no reason in 2017 to suggest he will not cope.

France vs Scotland Scotland's Finn Russell kicks a penalty

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This article has tip-toed around the obvious areas where England are likely to dominate. Scotland have gotten this far in the Championship in spite of a pathetic scrum by top tier test standards. Eddie Jones will look to keep things tight, beat up the Scots and dominate once his world class array of “finishers” enter the fray.

However, should Scotland get on top in the areas mention above, they have a hope, albeit a fool’s hope, of picking up their first Twickenham victory over the Old Enemy since 1983.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.