Rugby Insight: Matt Dawson's Key Targets

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As England prepare to travel to Murrayfield to take on a Scotland, former England scrum half Matt Dawson says the whole squad must be prepared the atmosphere that awaits.

England have not lost on their last four visits in Edinburgh but Dawson says there in a unique proposition that awaits north of the border for their third NatWest 6 Nations match of 2018.

“You know it’s going to be confrontational, you know you’re going to get pushed early on and notoriously the weather is not going to help with that.

“You’ve got to assume it’s going to be windy and wet and you have to be absolutely precise in all the decisions that you’re making.

“It’s a strangely hostile environment in Murrayfield. There is a lot of niggle and it’s not what you’re used to with the creature comforts of home.”

Close to the line

The last time England and Scotland met, England ran in seven tries in an emphatic 61-12 victory at Twickenham Stadium.

A look at the stats powered by IBM TryTracker say that if England want to make it another win, then if they make at least nine line breaks, it gives them a 90.50% chance of victory.

“Scotland be organised but I don’t think they will be quite as hard out of the blocks as Wales," added Dawson. "So there may be a few more opportunities for George Ford to get close to the line and bring in players around him, which didn’t happen in the last game..

“I would expect England to have a few more line breaks than they did against Wales which means they will hit their stat there.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, Scotland will be licking their lips at England going up there so England need to be gaining every bit of momentum and reemphasising the points that they score by going back and scoring more."

Compete and win

England's defence has conceded just 21 points so far in 160 minutes of rugby in the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations.

As well as keeping tries out, the targets for the game show that if England are able to secure 55% of all turnovers, then they have a 89% chance of taking home the points.

“England do have a habit of not competing for ball and being happy to be in the line, making big defensive hits and pushing teams back, rather than competing and giving penalties away," said Dawson.

“A lot will depend on Eddie’s tactics. If it’s wet and slippy then trying to steal those balls on the ground is dangerous and the referee is going to give advantage to the attacking side.

“If it’s a dry day then there is a very fast line that England could create in defence and that will give good opportunity for England’s forward pack to compete and win ball."

Keeping it simple

Former England captain Steve Borthwick now leads the team's forward work, and he's renowned for his keen eye for what happens at the set piece.

Dawson, a former World Cup winner, believes that the focus in this match will again be getting the basics right first and foremost, with IBM stats suggest 93% of set piece ball to be won that gives England an 80% chance of winning.

“The lineout stats have been very good, I think England will have kept a few moves up their sleeve, they’ve actually kept it very, very simple.

“If they can continue to win simple, fluid set piece ball then England’s backs are going to be dangerous.

“I wouldn’t expect them to be doing anything too fancy in the set piece, they will want to win their own set piece well and put pressure on without being ill disciplined at the scrum and trying to nick the ball at the lineout."