Analysis: Defiant Scotland prepare to halt the England charge

The motivations could hardly be any greater for Scotland.

The motivations could hardly be any greater for Scotland.

An England side with a spring in their step and on a title hunt, a packed-out Twickenham Stadium and critics writing you off – what a time this would be to stick it to the Auld Enemy.

Facts will be thrown in the face – no wins in three, no win at Twickenham since 1983 – but this only adds fuel to the fire Scotland look to click into gear.

With the Calcutta Cup and pride on the line, what can we expect in the final match of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations?


“To lose is never easy to take, especially in a Scotland shirt, but each week is a new week. We review the game, look at what we can improve and take the positives as well. With the main guys out – particularly the back row – it’s a good opportunity for myself and the younger guys. We’re defending the Calcutta cup which is massive for us.”

Scotland’s Magnus Bradbury is one of his country’s young guns and as he attests, motivation to defend the Calcutta Cup in the squad is huge.

The 23-year-old may be part of a squad coming off the back of that 18-11 defeat to Wales but he highlights opportunities for the team’s younger players, who have been standing out for Scotland all Championship long.

From Blair Kinghorn’s hat-trick against Italy in Round One to Jamie Ritchie’s emergence (the 22-year-old flanker has made 66 tackles thus far – fourth overall) – Scotland’s youngsters have been leading the way for their country.

Now, with further evidence under the belt from the Wales clash we saw 21-year-old Darcy Graham shine with a series of breaks and Scotland’s only try, and Adam Hastings’ added composure when called from the bench.

But perhaps the most impressive of all of them was Bradbury himself, leading the team’s carries (15), metres made (93) and tackles made (making 100 percent of his 16).

It’s often said that younger players are undaunted by fearsome challenges and Scotland are not building for the future with these men – they are ready to spearhead the challenge at Twickenham.


Bradbury may have stood out on the blindside on Saturday but there was one man who possibly shone even brighter in his 22 minutes of action – the rampaging Hamish Watson.

Watson’s excellence is perhaps not a surprise to any that have seen him play before but his barnstorming, all-action cameo against Wales was a thing to behold – a man playing like he’d been locked up in a straitjacket for months rather than merely out injured.

The back-rower beat 10 defenders in that 22 minutes, the most ever by a Scotland player in a Guinness Six Nations match and already the sixth most by any player overall in the Championship.

Whether he appears from the bench or from the start at Twickenham, Watson’s bucking bronco of a performance hints at more to come on Super Saturday – the 27-year-old also fought back the English tide at the breakdown 12 months ago and he could be set to do so again.

That back-row battle will be key in south-west London and while we’ve highlighted Watson, Bradbury and Ritchie already, Scotland’s front five have also been doing their bit.

Three of the top five players in the cleanout charts were Scots as Stuart McInally (21), Allan Dell (20) and Grant Gilchrist (16) all made the list.


Perhaps the crucial question for Scotland following performances in patches against both Wales and Ireland is whether they can click and start converting chances.

On Saturday, Scotland had more possession (59 percent), territory (58 percent), played more balls (362 to 259) and carried almost double the amount of metres (872.9 to 472.7) but they were unable to turn that into sufficient points as Wales held firm to prevail.

More chances will come against Eddie Jones’ England – The Red Rose kick the ball away more than any other side – 134 from hand this Championship compared to Scotland’s 82.

As a result, Scotland can expect plenty of possession on Saturday while England are happier without it – their total of 43.2 percent possession is the lowest of all six sides despite their 19 tries and counting.

Scotland have been more than in the game in their three defeats but if chances are taken, England could be in for a real fight.

Bradbury added: “It’s those final passes, those final steps to get over the line, that’s been killing us at the moment.

“We’ve got those positives, we know we’re creating chances, we just need to take that to the next step now and start putting these teams away.

“We just need to play as well as we can, try to fill these spots and take our chances.”