England regain Calcutta Cup in narrow victory

England posted their first victory over Scotland since 2017 at storm-lashed BT Murrayfield tonight.

It was not a pretty contest – conditions saw to that – and ultimately England exploited an opportunity deep in the Scotland 22 inside the final quarter, whereas the hosts could not breach the English defence.

Storm Ciara had been heavily trailed but at kick-off the weather, at least in the stadium bowl, was only in the opening salvoes of the full-scale battering that was to unfold.

Scotland kicked off towards the north. Sam Johnson made a pulverising hit and Adam Hastings and Blair Kinghorn then thundered into the 22 from England’s clearance kick.

Scotland went through the phases but ultimately Ali Price lost possession in a tackle and Scotland conceded the game’s first penalty.

Owen Farrell fired a raking touch-finder deep into Scotland’s territory and the home side fashioned safety via Jonny Gray’s lineout catch and the boots of Stuart Hogg and Hastings.

Maro Itoje took ball on for England after Hogg had spilled a high ball and Scotland were penalised for not rolling away at breakdown. Farrell miscued with the attempt in the eighth minute.

Three minutes later Scotland infringed anew and Farrell goaled the game’s first points (0-3, 11 mins).

A kick into space by Ali Price almost spawned an opening for Scotland but the ball bounced wickedly and referee Gauzere brought play back for an earlier England infringement. Hogg fired Scotland into the visitors’ 22 but the lineout malfunctioned.

Gray did better next time around and Scotland stoked the driving maul, which England thwarted illegally. Scotland again opted for the touchline but although Scott Cummings collected seven metres out, Scotland could not execute the drive and England managed to get bodies in the road.

Conditions were having the biggest influence thus far. A turnover on Hastings saw England attack on the left and then switch right and Hogg had to look lively to grab a kick before the predatory Jonny May. England were awarded a penalty at the breakdown but Farrell pushed it to the left of the posts.

As the game harrumphed towards half-time, good work by Jamie Ritchie at breakdown went unrewarded as Hogg could not find touch. Then a penalty against Rory Sutherland gave England a lineout option but, once again, not straight was the call.

It was hard not to feel sympathy for the players in both teams as the error count mounted. George Ford missed a drop-goal attempt and Huw Jones was adjudged to have knocked on after he had gathered a Price kick-ahead.

HALF-TIME: Scotland 0 England 3.

From the restart, Price’s attempted clearance was charged down by May. However the drama occurred at the other end of the field as Rory Sutherland broke then Huw Jones danced into the England 22 to bequeath a penalty to the hosts.

England were pinged again as the forwards drove tigerishly and at last reward for Scotland as Hastings goaled (3-3, 45 mins).

Hastings then fly-hacked a stray lineout and May was forced to concede a lineout as Scotland went through the phases until Kyle Sinckler burgled ball from Gray.

Sean Maitland had a chance to gather from another aerial assault, but he spilled ball with Ford a spectator, as England struggled to clear without putting the ball out on the full.

However, having got a foothold in Scotland territory they were awarded a scrum penalty in the 64th minute, but Farrell was off target for the third time.

TMO James Leckie was called to adjudicate as Farrell kicked through from scrum possession and Hogg had an anxious moment before the replay confirmed he had got downward pressure before Farrell pounced.

However, England were awarded a scrum five from which Ellis Genge ultimately powered over for the try. Farrell converted (3-10, 69 mins).

England were exploiting the overhead elements and Kinghorn had the misfortune to spill on three occasions before Farrell gave his team breathing space with his second penalty (3-13, 76 mins).

From the restart, Scotland won a rare penalty and Hastings nailed it to at least give Scotland a losing bonus point but that was all they could muster from today’s game. (6-13, 78 mins).

FULL-TIME: Scotland 6 England 13

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) CAPTAIN; Sean Maitland (Saracens), Huw Jones, Sam Johnson (both Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby); Adam Hastings, Ali Price (both Glasgow Warriors); Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby), Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray (all Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury (all Edinburgh Rugby).

Subs: Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) for Brown (53 mins), Allan Dell (London Irish) for Sutherland (60 mins), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby) for Fagerson (60 mins), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby) for Cummings (55 mins), Nick Haining (Edinburgh Rugby for Bradbury (74 mins), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Hutchison (Northampton Saints), Chris Harris (Gloucester) for Jones (55 mins).

England: George Furbank; Jonny May, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell CAPTAIN, Elliot Daly; George Ford, Will Heinz; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Subs: Tom Dunn, Ellis Genge for Vunipola (56 mins), Will Stuart for Sinckler (78 mins), Joe Launchbury for Kruis (70 mins), Courtney Lawes for Ludlam (52 mins), Ben Earl for Underhill (66 mins) Ben Youngs for Heinz (58 mins), Ollie Devoto.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France). Assistant referees: Mathieu Reynal (France) and Federico Anselmi (Argentina). TMO: James Leckie (Australia).

Crowd: 67,144

GUINNESS Man of the Match: Sam Underhill (England).

live commentary 4:45 PM Saturday 8 Feb 2020

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Kick-off 4:45 PM



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