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Kinghorn backs Scots to beat England despite Russell absence

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Edinburgh (AFP)

Blair Kinghorn believes Scotland can beat England at Murrayfield on Saturday even though they will again be without key playmaker Finn Russell.

The Racing 92 fly-half was with his Paris-based club when the Scots started this year's Six Nations with a 19-12 defeat by Ireland in Dublin last weekend after being left out by coach Gregor Townsend for a late-night drinking session in the build-up to the opener.

And Russell remains exiled from Scotland duty heading into the Calcutta Cup clash in Edinburgh, with Adam Hastings set to be retained at fly-half.

Scotland have not lost to England in the Six Nations for three years, with Russell's daring cut-out pass to Huw Jones that set up a try for Sean Maitland one of several brilliant plays the stand-off produced in a 25-13 victory at Murrayfield in 2018.

Russell also inspired an extraordinary second-half fightback at Twickenham last year as Scotland came from 31-0 behind to draw 38-38, a result that saw the visitors retain the Calcutta Cup.

Both sides will head into the latest edition of rugby union's oldest international fixture on the back of defeats, with World Cup finalists England losing 24-17 to France in Paris.

Scotland, not for the first time, suffered from self-inflicted wounds notably when new captain Stuart Hogg somehow dropped the ball in sight of the try-line at Dublin's Lansdowne Road.

But Kinghorn, on the left wing against Ireland, had no doubts the Scots could yet open up Eddie Jones' defence.

"Finn is a great player but I have full belief in everyone in the team," he said.

"Adam Hastings played really well on Saturday against Ireland. And it is great to see boys like Huw Jones coming back into some form. He's a devastating player.

"I fully believe we have all the creativity we need. We had chances to win but we gave away too many penalties and turnover ball at crucial points," he added.

Scotland enjoyed just one victory during last year's Six Nations and then endured a disappointing World Cup where they suffered a first-round exit following defeats by Ireland and hosts Japan.

"It would mean everything to win on Saturday," said Edinburgh flyer Kinghorn.

"It's a massive game at home and we want to retain the Calcutta Cup and the points for the table."

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