Finn Russell urges Scotland to take advantage in England Six Nations clash

Finn Russell urges Scotland to take advantage in England Six Nations clash
Russell takes a penalty kick for Scotland
Russell takes a penalty kick for Scotland
Finn Russell (31) hopes Scotland can turn the pain of a Rugby World Cup defeat by South Africa to their advantage when they face England in the Six Nations on Saturday.

The Springboks defeated Scotland 18-3 in a pool match in France in September on their way to being crowned world champions.

Since then defence coach Felix Jones has left the South Africa set-up to join England boss Steve Borthwick's backroom staff.

England will kick off at Murrayfield on Saturday in contention for a Grand Slam following wins over Italy and Wales in the opening two rounds.

They are still getting used to Jones's aggressive methods but Scotland co-captain Russell reckons his side will know what to expect based on their South Africa experience.

"We have looked back and talked about that game, and obviously looked at England's first two games of this campaign," Russell said on Friday.

"I think our learnings from the World Cup were not to go into our shells if we do feel the pressure.

"There were chances in that game against South Africa that we probably never saw on the pitch. Under pressure we probably went into our shell a little bit."

Scotland, for all their back-line talent, have often appeared less than the sum of their parts and they remain without a Championship title since the 1999 Five Nations.

Gregor Townsend's men will start the England game in Edinburgh on the back of a 20-16 loss to France, which followed a dramatic 27-26 win over Wales.

The Calcutta Cup-holders, however, have won their past three fixtures against England and have lost only one of the past six.

"With us and England, we have been progressing and over the last few years they have potentially not been as good as they can be," said gifted fly-half Russell. "But the World Cup showed how good they can be, getting to the semi-finals."

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England, like South Africa, play a blitz defence, meaning they try to to swarm midfield quickly in a bid to neutralise their opponents' attack.

But Russell, a veteran of 77 Tests, knows what it is like to have a target on his back.

"It's probably similar to a lot of teams in that the 10s (fly-halves) are the key players in attack," he said. "I'm not sure what England are going to do - if they are going to fire out the line and try to take me out or shut me down from the outside.

"We will have to be able to adapt, with myself and Sione (Tuipulotu) and Huw (Jones) being on the same page and having Blair (Kinghorn) out wide as another option.

"Although the 10 controls a lot of the attack, it is not just down to me to create things."


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