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Ross Ford insists England could have dealt better with Italy's breakdown tactics

Scotland hooker Ross Ford is mystified by the angry English response to Italy's breakdown tactics.

The Azzurri infuriated Red Rose head coach Eddie Jones by refusing to compete for possession after a tackle had been made when they clashed at Twickenham two weeks ago.

The ploy ensured no ruck was formed and therefore no offside line, allowing the Italians to flood England's back-line during a chaotic opening 40 minutes.

That left the farcical situation where England skipper Dylan Hartley and flanker James Haskell were seen quizzing referee Romain Poite about the laws governing the tackle contest before their side eventually got a grip on the chicanery after the half-time interval.

But it also sparked heated debate, with the likes of former England scrum-half Matt Dawson leading the calls for a re-think of World Rugby's laws.

Ford, however, cannot get his head around the fuss - and reckons Jones' side should have worked it out quicker.

The Dark Blues forward - whose side travel to Twickenham on Saturday - said: "It was interesting. I didn't know what the hoo-hah was all about really.

"There have been teams who have done the same thing in Super Rugby and in the PRO12 before.

"It's just one of those things you adapt too.

"It's strange when you first see it because you're not expecting it, it's not the norm.

"But it's a pretty simple fix to get round it."

However, Scots skipper John Barclay reckons this weekend's opponent will now see the benefit of not having to put their bodies on the line as they prepare for the Calcutta Cup showdown.

"There's been a lot of hype about that game and what happened and what didn't happen," he said. "It was quite unique to watch but it wasn't great as a spectacle, which is where I think some of the disgruntlement came from.

"But I'm sure England will look at it like they got maximum points from the game and their bodies are all in a good state because they didn't have to hit any contacts."

Yet Barclay believes the pressure is all on the English ahead of Saturday's crucial RBS 6 Nations clash.

The Dark Blues have emerged as this year's Championship shock contenders with their triumphs over both Ireland and Wales.

And that has raised expectations among hopeful Tartan Army followers that Vern Cotter's side can claim the nation's first win at Twickenham since 1983 and keep hopes of a stunning tournament triumph alive.

But the stakes are higher for Jones' men as they chase a world-record unbeaten run, according to Scarlets forward Barclay.

England need to extend their current streak of 17 straight victories to 19 to topple the All Blacks' 2015 mark and Scotland's stand-in captain says that makes talk of a Scottish success premature.

He said: "As much as the media would like there to be an extra edge and every time you play a Calcutta Cup match it gets blown up, the fact is we're playing a Six Nations which is five games long and we're on game four.

"They are all big games and this is the next one.

"That is maybe a slightly boring response but that's the reality of it. You don't look at the following week, you look at England - they are too good a side to look any further.

"Expectations are there but we don't put any undue pressure on ourselves.

"We kind of feel like the expectations are more on England. They have gone how many games unbeaten. We've only won two games this Six Nations.

"We feel like there's not much pressure on us. We're playing some good stuff which is maybe externally building a little bit of pressure.

"But within the group we're not getting carried away.

"England are playing well. You don't go that many games unbeaten without playing well ."

Meanwhile, Saracens centre Duncan Taylor has been ruled out of Saturday's match after sustaining a hamstring injury sustained during his club's' 35-27 victory over Newcastle on Sunday.


From Belfast Telegraph