Rugby-Past victories over England give Scotland confidence for Twickenham challenge

(Reuters) - Scotland take confidence and heart into Saturday's opening Nations clash against England after dominating the fixture against their old rivals over the last five years, said veteran forward Richie Gray.

Scotland have won three, drawn one and lost one of their last five tests against England, including a 38-38 draw at Twickenham in 2019 and then a narrow 11-6 win there two years later during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We won there in 2021 in very different circumstances obviously with no crowd but we do take belief from that and the fact the recent results against England have been favourable," said the 33-year-lock, who also played for the British & Irish Lions.

"But we are under no illusions of how difficult the challenge will be. England are under new management so they'll have a point to prove and we expect they'll come all guns blazing."

England fired coach Eddie Jones in November with Steve Borthwick taking over but must deal with key injuries among their forward pack.

But Gray, speaking at a virtual news conference, said the absence of the likes of Courtney Lawes, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tom Curry would be overcome by the depth in the English game.

"We expect a traditional English approach with a pack who want to take you on up front, so we are aware that it will certainly be a challenge," Gray said.

"It will also be a challenge to see how we deal with the pressure with 80 000 supporting their side at Twickenham, but I certainly believe we can."

Gray and team mates have been preparing on the Spanish coast with a full squad available for selection with coach Grgeor Townsend to name his team on Thursday.

"I believe we've got a good group. We've worked hard with quality players, and I believe that we can do well in this championship. I know it's an old cliche but we really do need to go one game at a time. Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Gray added.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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