Report | England 23-29 Scotland

Report | England 23-29 Scotland

Scotland made history at Twickenham today with a scintillating performance full of verve, bravery and doggedness as they won the Calcutta Cup for the third successive occasion.

Never before had Scotland posted a successive sequence of a draw and two victories at Twickenham but the statistics were blown apart courtesy of a four-try bonus display from Gregor Townsend’s men, a pulverising brace from Player of the Match Duhan van der Merwe, and cracking scores from Huw Jones and Ben White.

All three men have made something of a habit of scoring against the Auld Enemy but this was a resounding team success painted on as expansive a tableau as you could imagine.

And with Finn Russell adding nine points with the boot, to take his Scotland tally to 266 – fifth equal on our all-time list with Dan Parks – it was an occasion for joy.

Now the task is to build on a stunning achievement, beginning against Wales at BT Murrayfield next Saturday.

England, ranked fifth in the world, were embarking on a new era under head coach Steve Borthwick.  Scotland, two places behind them in the rankings, were striving for a third successive Championship victory against England, for the first time since 1972.

England kicked off through Marcus Smith and Pierre Schoeman had an early carry. Russell had to look lively to police a Smith grubber into Scotland’s 22 and a knock-on by the hosts gave Scotland the first scrum feed.

Jones was released off that scrum and Freddie Steward bowled over Sione Tuipulotu as England sought to counter, something you don’t see often!

A quick home lineout to Maro Itoje saw England attack right, but Kyle Steyn dotted down Smith’s stabbed-kick through.

On the ten-minute mark, we saw some prolonged kick tennis which ended with Russell finding touch near half-way.

Another bout, ended with England debutant Ollie Hassell-Collins being pinged for holding on in the tackle.

From the lineout, Jamie Ritchie won over the top, Huw Jones was released by Russell and Steyn carried menacingly.  Scotland went through the phases and had a penalty advantage looming, as Tuipulotu placed a delicate kick into in-goal which Jones pounced on for the opening try. Russell converted Jones’ 13th try for Scotland and fifth against England (0-7, 16 minutes).

Into the second quarter and Max Malins made immediate connection to a sclaffed Scotland clearance to set up a penalty for England inside Scotland’s 22. Ellis Genge was well defended from the tap, but England retained possession and went through 14 phases to trigger lovely hands by Kyle Sinckler, which set up Smith’s kick into the open, that was gathered for the try by Malins. Owen Farrell’s conversion drifted wide (5-7, 25 mins).

Scotland hit back with a vengeance. Steyn fielded an England clearance and fed Duhan van der Merwe five metres inside his own half. The winger took off and through a combination of guile and power, he defeated five defenders to storm in for a quite astonishing solo try. It was in the same neck of the woods as his score in the eery silence of the Covid game at Twickenham two years ago and his 15th in total for Scotland. Russell’s conversion hit the left upright and stayed out (5-12, 29 mins).

England hit back before the break with Alex Dombrandt and Joe Marchant playing a key role in the build-up before Lewis Ludlam released Malins for his second try, though there was a hint of a forward pass. Farrell, in the face of determined chase, miscued the conversion right (10-12, 39 mins).

Scotland restarted and Steyn won the aerial contest but a penalty at breakdown saw England find the touchline.

With the clock in the red, the attacking mindset of the hosts saw Smith again orchestrating in Scotland’s 22 and when Scotland were castigated again at breakdown, Farrell was on target from in front of the posts (13-12, 40 mins).

Half-time: England 13-12 Scotland 

On the restart, Russell was required to be alert to douse Farrell’s kick into Scotland’s 22 and superb harrying by George Turner on Ollie Chessum won Scotland a penalty that took them to just outside the England 22. However, Ritchie spilled a pass from Russell to derail that attack.

Two penalties, one at scrum, the second against Richie Gray after a lineout, gave England inviting field position, which they exploited clinically, with Dombrandt, Sinckler and Ben Curry playing key roles at pace, for Genge to drive over for their third try. Farrell converted (20-12, 47 mins).

Scotland needed a response and boy did they get it.  Off scrum ball, Hogg and Steyn careered up the right, Schoeman carried and Ben White had to retreat to deal with the ball spewing from the ruck.

But as Curry missed White in the tackle, the scrum-half blazed away on the narrow side and stepped full-back Steward for his second try in successive Calcutta Cup matches. Russell converted (20-19, 51 mins).

Tuipolutu made a try saving tackle on Smith as Scotland then sought to counter-attack off a Van Der Merwe breenge.  Steyn was set free with his own slick footwork and Stuart Hogg appeared outside but Hogg’s return pass eluded Steyn and the ball was lost forward.

Inside the final quarter now and Scotland were deemed guilty of hands in a ruck inside their own 22. Farrell’s second penalty stretched their lead (23-19, 64 mins).

Steyn could not gather Russell’s cross-field kick as Scotland brought some renewed attacking fizz of their own to proceedings ,but a penalty advantage was being played and Russell made it a one point game anew (23-22, 68 mins).

The clock was ticking down now and England sought to play territory but Scotland were not done yet.  Steyn had been put away on the right and the transference via Russell, Fraser Brown, Richie Gray and Matt Fagerson was utterly superb.  Who was on the end of it?  Van der Merwe. Inevitably, he still had work to do but you just knew he would. His 16th try for Scotland, taking him above Sean Maitland and Iwan Tukalo in the all-time list, the bonus point and Russell converted to give Scotland the lead for the first time this half (23-29, 75 mins).

Captain courageous Ritchie won a crucial turnover on Ben Earl as England threw the kitchen sink in the closing stages, but it was a phenomenal success for Scotland.

Full-time: England 23-29 Scotland 

England:  Freddie Steward; Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Owen Farrell CAPTAIN, Ollie Hassell-Collins; Marcus Smith, Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Ben Curry and Alex Dombrandt.

Subs: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola for Genge (60 mins), Dan Cole for Sinckler (60 mins), Nick Isiekwe for Curry (60 mins), Ben Earl for Dombrandt (55 mins), Ben Youngs for van Poortvliet (58 mins), Ollie Lawrence, Anthony Watson for Hassell-Collins (64 mins).

Scotland:  Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs); Kyle Steyn, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu (all Glasgow Warriors), Duhan Van Der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby); Finn Russell (Racing 92), Ben White (London Irish); Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie CAPTAIN, Luke Crosbie (all Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors).

Subs: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) for Turner (58 mins), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) for Schoeman (65 mins), Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) for Nel (58 mins), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) for Gilchrist (65 mins), Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) for Crosbie (58 mins), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) for White (69 mins), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby), for Hogg (65 mins) Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) for Jones (76 mins).

Referee: Paul Williams. Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe and James Doleman. TMO: Brendon Pickerill (all New Zealand).

Guinness Player of the Match: Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland).

Tickets for Scotland’s match against Italy at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 18 March are still available HERE

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