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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 20 April, 2018


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Ireland’s Six Nations is over, but it’s still very much alive for our celtic cousins up north of Hadrien’s Wall.

Yes, Scotland are in the formidable fortress of Twickenham hoping to not only end England’s long unbeaten streak and stop them from celebrating a Championship victory today, but they can also lay claim to some silverware of their own.

Win today, and Scotland will secure the Triple Crown and give themselves a very real chance of winning the title as they take on Italy (and all the points-scoring opportunities they provide) on the final day.

Let us know your thoughts and predictions for this game – and how disappointed you are that Ireland are not in the mix for honours – by commenting below or finding us on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or even Twitter!

Eddie Jones ruthlessly used his best friend as a scape-dog when Owen Farrell pulled up injured on Friday, but the Saracens star is good to go.

Here’s a reminder of the full team-sheets for today.

England have packed all the heavy artillery into the back row. Scotland have a real in-form  groundhog in the shape of Hamish Watson though and they will hope he can deliver some fine margins and room to manoeuvre for that excellent back-line.


15. Mike Brown
14. Jack Nowell
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Owen Farrell
11. Elliot Daly
10. George Ford
9. Ben Youngs

1. Joe Marler
2. Dylan Hartley (captain)
3. Dan Cole
4. Joe Launchbury
5. Courtney Lawes
6. Maro Itoje
7. James Haskell
8. Nathan Hughes


16. Jamie George
17. Mako Vunipola
18. Kyle Sinckler
19. Tom Wood
20. Billy Vunipola
21. Danny Care
22. Ben Te’o
23. Anthony Watson


15. Stuart Hogg
14. Tommy Seymour
13. Huw Jones
12. Alex Dunbar
11. Tim Visser
10. Finn Russell
9. Ali Price

1. Gordon Reid
2. Fraser Brown
3. Zander Fagerson
4. Richie Gray
5. Jonny Gray
6. John Barclay (Capt.)
7. Hamish Watson
8. Ryan Wilson


16. Ross Ford
17. Allan Dell
18. Simon Berghan
19. Tim Swinson
20. Cornell Du Preez
21. Henry Pyrgos
22. Duncan Weir
23. Mark Bennett

It’s getting close now, 34 years worth of form points to an England victory here, never mind the 17 straight games won by England since they crashed out of their own World Cup.

The visitors certainly have the firepower to put chances away. If they can get some early scores on the board, they might just make England panic.

Truth be told though, we can only predict a home win.

There appears to be a choir of 7-year-olds singing Flower of Scotland. Not exactly a rousing rendition to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.

Here we go then, KICK-OFF

Finn Russell gets us up and running. Itoje takes it on his 22.


And when England get the ball back in midfield, Itoje is very much involved again, popping up on the right wing, feigning a pass slightly and then absolutely steam-rolling Russell.



Oh now… Fraser Brown is the subject of a TMO review for tipping Elliott Daly.



Mathieu Raynal has deemed the tackle worth of a sin-bin. Brown fortunate that Daly landed on his back rather than his head.

Crazy that the punishment is based the outcome of these kinds of tackle.

Flag 2Mins

TRY! England 5 Scotland 0 (Joseph ’2)

Full back Brice Dulin ran in a late try to hand France their first bonus point and only second win in this year’s Six Nations in a hard-fought 40-18 win over Italy in Rome Saturday.

With only win and two tries scored in three matches, Les Bleus travelled to the Stadio Olimpico looking to redress the balance of what has been a largely underwhelming campaign.

There was a distinct lack of French flair in the Italian capital, where Azzurri captain Sergio Parisse touched down after three minutes to spark celebrations a week after running England close in a controversial 36-15 loss at Twickenham.

But an error-strewn display, peppered by ill-discipline by the hosts handed the momentum to Guy Noves’s visitors, who saw Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa, Louis Picamoles and Dulin all touch over.

Fickou touched down on 21 minutes and after Vakatawa bundled over shortly after the restart, Italy saw a try disallowed following video referral before Picamoles ran through in the 67th minute to put the match beyond reach.

Dulin claimed a welcome bonus point three minutes from the final whistle, only for Angelo Esposito to touch down as defiant Italy desperately tried to reduce arrears.

It was France’s first win since beating Scotland in Paris last month and Italy’s fourth reverse in succession following defeats to Wales (33-7), Ireland (63-10) and England.

Italy had sparked controversy last week in England with ‘no ruck’ tactics that baffled their opponents and left rugby officials scrambling to review the rules.

But Conor O’Shea’s men seemed intent on a more positive approach when, in the opening minutes, Parisse touched down after fly-half Carlo Canna’s superb dummy drew two players to let his captain run through.

Canna missed the conversion from the left side of the 22. Although Camille Lopez hit the first of 20 points with the boot, a penalty on nine minutes, to reduce arrears Italy came close to a second try soon after only for a knock-on to force a scrum, won by France.

Italy had dominated the opening period but a series of impressive runs and offloads between wing Remi Lamerat and Vakatawa set Fickou free on the 22 metre line to touch down unchallenged on 21 minutes.

Lopez hit the conversion for a 13-8 lead and suddenly the pressure was on Italy.

A Canna penalty reduced arrears to 13-11 but France took their half-time advantage to 16-11 when Lopez hit a penalty following a high tackle.

Dario Chistolini replaced hooker Lorenzo Cittatini a minute after the restart, but the hosts were under the cosh from the opening seconds when Fickou’s grubber kick towards the tryline sparked panic.

Minutes later, France won the penalty advantage and when scrum-half Baptiste Serin fed Lopez, he offloaded for Vakatawa to run in underneath the posts.

Lopez kicked the easy conversion for a 26-11 lead on 50 minutes and Italy were exposed further when Fickou broke through the middle to offload to Vakatawa, only for Edoardo Padovani to race back with a great tackle yards from the tryline.

Giorgio Bronzini replaced Padovani and minutes later looked to have relaunched the hosts after powering over the line with Picamoles and one other player on either arm.

But after video referral, New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe ruled no try.

It was a significant blow for the hosts, and as Italian heads dropped France stuck the knife in.

At a line-out deep in Italian territory, Kevin Gourdon offloaded for Dulin to run clear of the Italian defence to score.

A late Italian fightback saw Esposito touch down in the final minute, allowing Canna to make amends for his earlier miss, but it was too little, too late.


Ugh, that didn’t take long. Joseph rips through the Scottish line on a first-phase set-play.

England in full control and Eddie Jones’ dog hasn’t stopped Owen Farrell kicking conversions.

England 7 Scotland 0


PENALTY! England 10 Scotland 0 (Farrell ’7)


England at their best, they’ve already hit a real rhythm in this game and Scotland look like a deer in the headlights.

Just under 4 minutes to run on the sin-bin.


After missing touch on a penalty, Stuart Hogg puts some shape on the game. First, he launches a Garryowen and when the ball is returned, they pump it back with interest to the 22 and Nowell can only slice it clear.

Line-out in England’s 22.


The white wall stands firm despite some threats of invention from Scotland’s playmakers.

They’re still ploughing away through 12+ phases until Finn Russell attempts a drop-goal.

It’s a shocker, blocked, but Watson picks up and restarts the attack.


Cotter’s attack just runs out of steam. England turn it over and clear to end the sin-bin period.

Positive signs for the visitors, but this 10-point deficit is a mountain to climb.


Scotland just can’t deal with Itoje. The big Saracen’s carry help England force a breakdown penalty and Farrell extends the lead a little further.

PENALTY! England 13 Scotland 0 ( Farrell ’14)


Elliott Daly had returned from his HIA after the Brown tackle, but he has now been replaced by Watson permanently.


Speaking of HIAs, Stu Hogg is running down the tunnel for his. Mark Bennett on, putting Seymour at fullback.


Scotland in danger of a full-on implosion. Finn Russell rips a long pass left ON HIS 5-METRE LINE and Joseph comes close to intercepting.

Mark Bennett, meanwhile, (only on for Hogg’s HIA) has rolled his ankle and must be replaced.

It’s one disaster after another.


Slick move, terrific finish from the centre. He takes Ford’s flat pass at full pelt, steps of his left and swerves the last defender to dot down under the posts.

This one’s done, folks. England are your 2017 Six Nations champions (he says, deliberately tempting fate).


A penalty won in front of the posts and Russell goes for touch.

You’d almost be tempted to take the easy kick, just to avoid ending scoreless, but the line-out is a real threat for Scotland…

Flag 29Mins

TRY! England 20 Scotland 7 ( Reid ’29)

Great foundation set by the line-out and the prop bulldozes his way through and over the line just left of the posts.


They thought they were in, but a Jonny Gray infringements pulls them right back out of the game again. Farrell is striking the ball beautifully.

PENALTY! England 23 Scotland 7 ( Farrell ’32)


England making Scotland feel the way Ireland did in Edinburgh on opening day. Tearing the defence to shreds. Joseph did the damage on first phase again, but this time took Farrell’s flat pass and shovelled it on to Watson after making the line-break.

Farrell dusts himself down after being dumped on the turf and adds the extras.

England 30 Scotland 7


The aisles between the seats at Twickenham have a constant flow of people ambling to and from the concession stalls all the way through the half. There is a constant hum  of chatter in the ground. These people are waiting for the celebrations to start.

And who can blame them really? This hasn’t been a contest so far.


Penalty on halfway to England. Raynal tells our Dylan that there’s no time for a line-out, so Faz will take a long shot…


Good strike, but the centre’s 50 metre effort veers just left and wide of the posts

HALF-TIME: England 30 Scotland 7


We’re away for the second half in Twickenham.


Joseph flies in for his third try on a fine angle from Youngs’ pass.

Just a minute earlier, Scotland were scrambling back and only survived because Russell intercepted Youngs pass from 10 metres.

The 10 managed to save the try and avoid carrying over his own try-line, but the danger is never clear for long.


PENALTY! England 40 Scotland 7 ( Farrell ’46)

An interesting choice to go for the posts when the game and the Championship is settled, but go Owen Farrell does.


TRY! England 40 Scotland 12 (Jones ’50)


Great finish from the Scottish centre, driving between the white shirts out on the right flank to dot down on the line.

The conversion is good too.

England 40 Scotland 14


Scotland have been horrendously off the pace, but at least they’re still willing to make a cut here.


But just in case Scotland held any plans of a late flourish, Big Billy Vunipola is on and ready to make a big push for the Lions.


Scrum penalty comes for England and Billy V wants to go quickly, but the whistle goes as soon as Pyrgos makes contact – of course he didn’t stop him or prevent him passing.

Raynal probably should have let that play unfold. Instead Farrell kicks for a line-out.


The big man is back on the score-sheet, rumbling over with a little leeching help. Farrell adds yet another conversion. His bad day of kicking against Italy feels like a very, very long time ago.

England 47 Scotland 14


OOf. A sickening clash of heads puts Ryan Wilson on the ground after Jamie George’s carry.

Both are off the field, though I’m not sure if George is off merely as a blood replacement or a HIA.


TRY! England 47 Scotland 19 (Jones ’69)


The South African-skilled centre has his second try.

The visitors attacked well from right to left and whipped the ball wide early. Jones looked to have lost his chance when he cut back inside, but he kept the legs pumping well and found his way over the try-line.

Scotland could take a bonus point yet.

England 47 Scotland 21


TRY! England 52 Scotland 21 (Care ’72)


Try number six for England and it feels like they can turn on the steam-roller at will.

Care bounces through the wreckage that is Scotland’s remaning team and gleefully dots down.

Farrell nails it again.

England 54 Scotland 21


We’re drawing to a merciful finish here with England still camped and casually building pressure on the Scottish line.

Ireland will have to hope England have some raucous celebrations tonight.


Scotland standing up to a late English onslaught here. Ford attempts to whip it wide, but his pass is knocked on in flight and England have to re-think.


TRY! England 59 Scotland 21 ( Care ’83)

There you have it.

Scotland were out on their feet when England ran in a seventh try to cross the 60-point mark.

The Calcutta Cup, the joint world record winning streak, the Triple Crown and the Six Nations trophy belong to England.

Only an Ireland team with plenty to prove stand between them and a Grand Slam next week.

It’s not going to be pretty. Brace yourself.

About the author:

Sean Farrell