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England 6-11 Scotland

We’ve heard a lot about history at the start of the GUINNESS Six Nations Championship, but Scotland made the sweetest of entries into both the 2021 competition and the record books as they upset the applecart with a stunning Calcutta Cup win for the ages.

Gregor Townsend’s side, brilliantly led by Stuart Hogg, joined the heroes of 1938, 1971 and 1983, to win at Twickenham, a feat beyond so many of our greatest players.

They will sit proudly in Scottish Rugby folklore alongside Wilson Shaw, Peter Brown and Roy Laidlaw.

Ok, so it was Twickenham devoid of home support, but that should take nothing away from the quality of Scotland’s performance.

It was a display with rugby intelligence writ large and also the most tenacious of defences, particularly when required in a finale which was always going to be fraught for supporters with the weight of the past never far from minds.

But we should have known better than to question that this Scotland side would find a way to get over the line. And how they did.

Duhan Van Der Merwe’s first half try and penalties in each half from Finn Russell saw Scotland home against two first half penalties from England’s captain Owen Farrell.

Scotland aiming for only their fourth win at Twickenham in 83 years began their 2021 Six Nations campaign in light rain and with a distinct chill in the air.

After all the pre-match chat around the 150th anniversary of the first international match, the focus was on a corner of south-west London for 80 plus minutes as Owen Farrell kicked off for England.

Matt Fagerson pouched and sought to carry but England had the first opportunity as Maro Itoje charged down Ali Price’s attempted clearance from a ruck. But a penalty against the hosts for sealing off enabled Scotland to breathe a sigh of relief.

In the first five minutes Scotland were awarded four penalties, from one of which Finn Russell opted for the touchline. Jonny Gray rose highest there and George Turner, in typically rumbustious mode, charged on. Scotland went through the phases and England infringed for Russell to goal the opening points (0-3, 5 mins).

Price again was charged down by Itoje, but Gray’s lineout catch gave his scrum-half the chance to clear, third time lucky.

Cameron Redpath, Scotland cap number 1114, on his debut, found a decent touch-finder into English territory after a home attack had misfired and two minutes later broke menacingly from his own half as Scotland sought to counter off a dunt from Duhan Van Der Merwe.

It had been a strong opening from Scotland and England were awarded their first penalty inside their own 22 in the 12th minute when Zander Fagerson was adjudged to have collapsed the first scrum.

Second scrum and it was England who were penalised for Russell to prod Scotland into the home 22. Turner’s throw over the top to Redpath was precise but England managed to scramble clear only for another penalty, this time against Tom Curry, to ensure Scotland remained in the ascendancy.

Russell almost managed to set up Sean Maitland with a beautifully weighted kick but when his opposite number Farrell fired England into the visitors 22, Scotland eventually won a lineout against the throw and English indiscipline enabled Scotland to clear.

Yet another penalty – for Billy Vunipola’s offside and then high tackle on Russell saw the England No 8 yellow carded on the 23rd minute. Russell’s touchfinder and Scott Cummings’ lineout take triggered a driving maul and Hamish Watson was ultimately denied on the try line by a double tackle from Curry and Ellis Genge.

From the scrum 5, England were free-kicked first up, then a reset and a penalty on the third go. Scotland opted to scrum from the penalty before another reset. Two minutes and counting . . .

When the scrum was completed, Redpath received, Russell looped round, and his diagonal kick bounced agonisingly above the grasp of Van Der Merwe. An opportunity missed.

You sensed Scotland needed to mine some points from all this territory and to exploit their numerical advantage and sure enough they did.

From Russell’s high kick, Maitland competed, Matt Fagerson surged on belligerently and then from the breakdown, Russell, Redpath, Stuart Hogg and Turner handled for the hooker to send Van Der Merwe in for the try, demolishing the would-be tackle of English flanker Mark Wilson and making the finish look much easier than it was. It was his fourth try for Scotland. Russell missed the conversion (0-8, 30 mins).


England pulled back three points when Rory Sutherland was pinged at a breakdown and Farrell was on target (3-8, 32 mins).

As Farrell lined up a second penalty attempt, an intervention from TMO Joy Neville, led to Russell being sin-binned for a trip on Ben Youngs. It was debatable whether there was any intent from Russell but after a fine first-half let us hope the yellow card does not follow the pattern that befell Scotland when Duncan Taylor went to the naughty step last time out in Dublin.

Farrell did land that second penalty (6-8, 38 mins).

Half time: England 6 Scotland 8

Hogg’s nifty footwork found space for Scotland in the opening exchanges of the second-half. Another scrum, another offence, this time Scotland free-kicked, but the length of line kicking from both Hogg and Price hinted that Scotland were managing the sin-binning thus far with aplomb.

Hogg’s superb penalty to touch and Cummings’ leap at the lineout set up a percussive sequence of attacks from Scotland with Van Der Merwe again in pulverising close-range action.

Russell returned to land his second penalty from in front of the posts (6-11, 48 mins).

Hogg blazed in counter-attack after his own high ball take and Scotland continued to have the upper hand as Itoje was penalised for contact with Cummings in the air at a lineout, but Russell pushed the kick to the right of the posts.

It seemed a bad miss, but Hogg soon collected an Elliot Daly kick and fired the ball from his own 22 to within seven metres of the England line.

Russell sclaffed a drop-goal attempt but knew the advantage was being played as England conceded yet another penalty and once again the touchline was the preferred route.

Cummings rose highest and the drive was cranking up through the gears, but England managed to infiltrate and won the scrum put-in as the clock ticked towards the hour.

Both sides had gone to their bench and England enjoyed some rare territory, until Hogg, once again with an absolute Howitzer boot sent them back into their own 22.

Dave Cherry joined the fray in the 66th minute to win his first cap as Scotland’s defence remained uncompromising.

Hogg was off target with a long-range penalty attempt in the 72nd minute as the nerves became ever more frayed for the watching TV hordes.

Scotland’s defence won a scrum put-in with a maul turnover and with just four minutes remaining England were free-kicked at a scrum. Hogg’s monster boot forced a knock on from Jonny May and Scotland were playing the game in exactly the right place.

Full-time: England 6 Scotland 11


England: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Jonny May ; Owen Farrell CAPTAIN, Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Will Stuart, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.

Subs: Luke Cowan-Dickie for George (55 mins), Beno Obano for Genge (71 mins), Harry Williams for Stuart (62 mins), Courtney Lawes for Wilson (52 mins), Ben Earl for Vunipola (66 mins), Dan Robson for Youngs (55 mins), George Ford for Lawrence (68 mins), Max Malins for Watson (75 mins)

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) CAPTAIN; Sean Maitland (Saracens), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Cameron Redpath (Bath), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby); Finn Russell (Racing 92), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby), George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings (all Glasgow Warriors), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs), Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson (both Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors).

Subs: Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) for Turner (66 mins), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) for Sutherland (63 mins), Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) for Zander Fagerson (63 mins), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) for Ritchie (65 mins), Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) for Matt Fagerson (63 mins), Scott Steele (Harlequins) for Price (68 mins), Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh Rugby), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) for Maitland (71 mins).

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland). Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere and Mathieu Raynal (both France). TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland).

GUINNESS Player of the match: Stuart Hogg (Scotland).


live commentary 4:45 PM Saturday 6 Feb 2021

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Kick-off 4:45 PM

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