England and Scotland played to an incredible 38-38 draw at Twickenham on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
What a game.
England looked set to finish their Six Nations campaign with an emphatic victory when they led 31-0 after 31 minutes. Yet Scotland scored just before half-time and then crossed the line five more times in the second half to lead 38-31 with three minutes to go.
The biggest comeback in Six Nations history was on the cards.
There was another twist to come, though, as replacement flyhalf George Ford dived over under the crossbar two minutes into stoppage time to salvage a draw for England.
With Wales having beaten Ireland 25-7 in Cardiff, Eddie Jones’ men came into this match knowing that their Six Nations titles hopes were over. But that didn’t stop them from scoring three converted tries within the first 13 minutes.
Jack Nowell crossed the line after just two minutes, with Tom Curry then scoring after a short, quick lineout.
England struck again from another lineout when Manu Tuilagi collided with Sam Johnson in midfield, Kyle Sinckler charged through and a quick recycle saw Joe Launchbury dot down.
The hosts thought they had scored again, in the 19th minute, but TV replays showed Ben Youngs had knocked on.
But Farrell, who had kicked all three conversions, added a penalty, before England scored again on the half-hour mark. Youngs passed to Slade, whose out-the-back-of-the-hand pass put Johnny May over.
Scotland finally stopped the rot just before the break when Farrell’s kick was charged down by hooker Stuart McInally, who won the race to the ball to make it 31-7.
The Scottish fightback continued in the second half, with Darcy Graham scoring after seven minutes, before Ali Price regathered his chip kick and put Magnus Bradbury away.
Graham then scored his second try, in the 57th minute, after a long pass from Finn Russell had found Sean Matfield, to reduce the deficit to seven points.
The visitors then, incredibly, drew level at 31-31 on the hour mark, when Russell intercepted Farrell’s pass and raced away to score.
With 12 minutes to go, Scotland replacement Greig Laidlaw missed a penalty-goal attempt that he would normally slot with his eyes closed, but it seemed to matter little when Russell released Sam Johnson, who scored under the posts.
Scotland, at that stage, were three minutes away from one of the greatest comeback wins in Test history. England, though, finished with a flourish to ensure the spoils were shared.
England – Tries: Jack Nowell, Tom Curry, Joe Launchbury, Johnny May, George Ford. Conversions: Owen Farrell (4), Ford. Penalty: Farrell.
Scotland – Tries: Stuart McInally, Darcy Graham (2), Magnus Bradbury, Finn Russell, Sam Johnson. Conversions: Russell (2), Greig Laidlaw (2).
England – 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Johnny May, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 George Kruis, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ben Moon.
Subs: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 George Ford, 23 Ben Te’o.
Scotland – 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Byron McGuigan , 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Sam Skinner, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (c), 1 Allan Dell.
Subs: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Chris Harris.