Scotland v England: defending champions poised for a tough start

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England interim boss Stuart Lancaster has taken on his role with vigour and has made a host of changes to the way the defending champions do things on and off the pitch – but his sweeping reforms may not be enough to give England an opening victory against Scotland in this season’s Six Nations.

Lancaster has named three debutants in his starting XV – No.8 Phil Dowson along centre pairing Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt – and while England look a lot more exciting than the team who played so poorly in New Zealand, a lack of experience and pace could cost them north of the border.

England’s most experienced player is Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson who has 36 caps to his name and only six of the team who start in this season’s Six Nations lined up against Wales at the same stage last season.

Admittedly, Scotland coach Andy Robinson has made eight changes to the side who lost 16-12 to England in New Zealand but they have more experience than England – most notably in the centre where England’s uncapped duo of Farrell and Barritt will face the much more experienced Nick De Luca and Sean Lamont.

If Scotland can come out on top in that battle and stop England on the gain line then they may have enough to see off England at a pretty decent 5/4.

Scotland have won two of their previous three home matches against England (they drew the last one 15-15) while all of the last three encounters between the nations have been incredibly close.

The biggest winning margin in the last three meetings was six points in their 2011 clash at Twickenham.

Backing Scotland to come out on top in this match by 1-5 points looks very tempting at 9/2.

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