Huw Jones scored a brace as Scotland inflicted a shock 25-13 defeat on England at Murrayfield on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
What a result this is. Scotland beat No 2-ranked England for the first time since 2008 to claim the Calcutta Cup and dealt a potentially fatal blow to England’s hopes of winning a third consecutive Six Nations title. It was only England’s second defeat under coach Eddie Jones in 26 matches.
Coming into this match, Scotland had not scored a single try against England at this venue in 14 years. Jones’ first try made him the first Scottish player to do so since Simon Danielli in 2004.
Scotland employed a fast-paced, attacking approach, while England clearly wanted to play a steady, more controlled game. The contrasting styles at every changeover of possession made for fascinating viewing. But in the end, it was Scotland’s fire and fury, which made England look like erroneous schoolboys defensively, that came out on top.
England’s set pieces malfunctioned, and they were outplayed on the ground by Scotland’s starting loose trio of Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson and John Barclay, all of whom made telling turnovers across the park.
Kickers Greig Laidlaw and Owen Farrell, who was by far England’s best player, traded penalties before Scotland’s backs laid down the gauntlet. When Laidlaw put in a precise grubber kick inside the 22, Jones reacted quickly and toed the ball further ahead and beat two defenders to regather and score.
Farrell narrowed the gap with his second penalty, but Scotland made their dominance count with a double strike on the stroke of half-time. From turnover possession, Jones went on a dazzling run and when he was brought down, the support runners shifted the ball from right to left where a floated pass over the top freed up Sean Maitland to score despite a desperate tackle attempt from Anthony Watson.
England were under siege and had absolutely no idea how to counter Scotland’s approach. England’s carries were ineffective and their ball protection in the tackle left much to be desired. It was from one such instance that Scotland pounced in the 38th minute. After the forwards turned over possession, Jones ran on to the ball at pace, hit a gap and broke through England’s defence yet again. Watson and Mike Brown tracked back, but Jones ran straight through the pair of them to cross for his second. Laidlaw kicked the conversion as Scotland led 22-6 at the break.
Farrell continued to fight a lone battle in the second half as he went over for a self-converted try soon after the restart. After that, though, the points dried up as England’s defence finally matched the intensity of Scotland’s.
Farrell was denied a second try after Courtney Lawes knocked the ball on in the buildup. Every time Eddie Jones’ team got within scoring range, Scotland repelled their attack. And in the 66th minute, the hosts extended their lead to 12 when Finn Russell knocked over a penalty.
England chanced their arm in the dying stages of the thrilling contest, in search of at least a losing bonus point. But, as they had done throughout the game, Scotland weathered the storm and ended the match with another superb turnover.
Scotland – Tries: Huw Jones (2), Sean Maitland. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (2). Penalties: Laidlaw, Finn Russell.
England – Try: Owen Farrell. Conversion: Farrell. Penalties: Owen Farrell (2).
Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay (c), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Gordon Reid.
Subs: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 David Denton, 21 Ali Price, 22 Nick Grigg, 23 Blair Kinghorn.
England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 George Kruis, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell.
Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images