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Matt Scott calls for cool heads ahead of Calcutta Cup showdown

Matt Scott has revealed some of his Scotland team-mates were so fired up to face England on their last visit to Murrayfield they were even moved to tears.

But those pre-match sobs of raw emotion two years ago were soon replaced by a depressed wail at the final whistle as the Scots suffered a painful defeat.

The 20-0 drubbing remains a sore point for the Dark Blues, with Edinburgh centre Scott admitting he and his team-mates were too pumped up as they took on the Auld Enemy.

Now he insists lessons have been learned and it will be a cooler, more collected side that opens this year's RBS 6 Nations against Eddie Jones' team on Saturday.

"The last time England were here we went way over the mark in terms of emotion," said Gloucester-bound Scott. "Boys were even tearing up in the changing room before the game.

"I thought I'd go out and have an amazing game because I was so fired up. I thought I was invincible.

"But I ended up feeling helpless out on the pitch. The emotion affected our play.

"We played so poorly that day. We couldn't get any of our attack structures going. We were 15 headless individuals running about the pitch.

"It was an awful experience but I think we've learned that yes this is the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield, yes everyone is going to be fire and brimstone and extremely pumped up but we need to take a step back, put our cool heads on and play a bit of smart rugby."

There is a litany of grim stats detailing Scotland's rapid rate of decline over the last decade and a half.

It's eight years since they last beat England. Even worse, you have to go back to 2004 to find the last time they even managed a try on home soil against the English.

But faith has been restored by their march to last year's World Cup quarter-finals and Scott knows much will now be expected of Vern Cotter's team, especially with their weekend opponents still in a state of flux following Jones' recent arrival.

"That's the beauty of the Six Nations," he said. "Every year you go in with things to prove or momentum to build on.

"It's interesting the dynamics going into this game. Both squads have got different motivations and experiences over the last 12 months.

"The punters are right to expect a lot from us. We are aware of that pressure. But we can't go in with this burdening us. We have to take the shackles off and play the game we have been practising for the last 12 months."

As much as the Scots have moved forward with their England 2015 display, real questions remain over their defensive frailties.

They have conceded 30 points or more four times in the last year - but Scott is hopeful a solution has been found.

Former Springboks coach and breakdown expert Richie Gray has been recalled to his homeland to help defence coach Matt Taylor come up with a plan.

Scott said: "One of our first meetings when we came into camp was to identify [those defensive weaknesses]. We saw Ireland only conceded two tries over the whole of last year's Six Nations when they won it. In contrast we were into double figures.

"If we are looking to win the tournament, to win big games like this, that is certainly an area we have to improve on. We can't concede 25 to 30 points a game and expect to win."

Scott will line up in midfield with Mark Bennett after the Glasgow centre shook off a shoulder injury to declare himself fit.

Bennett's return and the surprise recall for Scarlets flanker John Barclay - who will make his first Six Nations appearance in four years - are the only changes to the side beaten narrowly by Australia last time out at the World Cup.

Cotter said : "John's been playing at eight for Scarlets. Slipping him to six means he becomes a link player, a ball carrier. He is also able to take the ball on the ground. He's a tireless worker so we feel he will combine well with John Hardie and David Denton in the back row.

"Mark has been given the green light by our medical guys. He is 100 per cent and we can't hold him back."


From Belfast Telegraph