6N: super Scotland make it three on the bounce against England

Duhan van der Merwe scores two tries and Ben White dots down once in Twickenham success

Duhan van der Merwe scored twice in Scotland's sensational win over England at Twickenham. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Duhan van der Merwe scored twice in Scotland's sensational win over England at Twickenham. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

England 23

Scotland 29

DAVID BARNES @ Twickenham

WINS at Twickenham appear to be like buses for the Scotland rugby team. You wait an age (38 years) for one and then two come along in quick succession. The winning streak over the ‘Auld Enemy’ has now stretched to three matches on the bounce, which was last achieved back in 1972 – and, remarkably, Gregor Townsend’s side have won four and drawn one of the last six Calcutta Cup games.

If anything, this success is even more impressive than that drought-ending success of 2021 because it was achieved at a full-house at Twickenham (with out Covid restrictions nullifying the advantage which comes from playing in front of your own crowd) against an England time which should have been energised by the recent change of coach.

Giant South African winger Duhan van der Merwe will be the toast of his adopted country for days to come after his two sensational tries, but it was an excellent squad effort.

U20s Six Nations: heroic Scotland give England a fright

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Both teams jabbed cautiously at each other from the start, but the first punch wasn’t thrown until 15-minutes in when a solid tackle from Huw Jones brought down Ollie Chessum-Collins and Stuart Hogg did well to get over the ball and win a penalty on the deck. That gave Scotland an attacking line-out off which Finn Russell sent Jones through a yawning gap, and although the centre didn’t make the line this time, his offload to Kyle Steyn kept that attack going, and when the ball was transferred back right two phases later, Sione Tuipulotu spotted space behind which he exploited with an excellent grubber for Jones to coolly finish off. Russell converted.

England struck back when Marcus Smith popped a diagonal over the top which found Malins unmarked on the right, but Farrell pulled the conversion to the left of the posts meaning Scotland stayed narrowly ahead, and then came the first moment of magic from van der Merwe.

When Steyn collected an England clearance on the right and passed in field, it looked like nothing much was on, but the big winger had other ideas and set off on a gallop from five metres inside his own half, shrugging off five English tacklers on his way to the line, including an embarrassingly weak effort right at the end from home No 8 Alex Drombrandt.

It was one of the great moments in the long and storied history of this famous fixture, but Russell missed the conversion and England managed to sneak ahead in the final five minutes before the break. They attacked off turnover ball, pulling Scotland in with several powerful thrusts, before sending possession to the right for Lewis Ludlum to send Malins in for his second with a well-timed pass.

This time Farrell pushed the conversion to the right of the kindling, but England won a penalty from the restart and worked their way back into Scotland’s 22, before WP Nel was called for coming in at the side handing Farrell a chance to find his kicking boots.

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England carried their momentum into the start of the second half, aided by a glut of Scotland penalties as the visiting pack struggled to contain the home team’s power at this point, and the hosts stretched further ahead when Ellis Genge muscled over from close range.

But Dombrandt fumbled the restart, handing Scotland an attacking scrum from which Scotland attacked with real ambition, and it took a slice of luck but their ambition was rewarded when Ben White tidied up scrappy ruck ball and pirouetted out of two tackles to score. Russell’s conversion brought it back to a one-point game.

Scotland had England scrambling in defence when Steyn and Hogg combined to threaten on the right, but the pass wasn’t accurate enough and that move fizzled out, then penalty conceded by replacement prop Simon Berghan for hands in the ruck right in front of his own posts allowed Farrell to stretch England’s lead back out to four points, with just over 15-minutes to go.

Scotland were still very much in the contest, however, and Russell almost put Steyn over on the right but his cross-kick had just a bit too much on it. Play was brought back for an earlier offside penalty, which allowed Russell to reduce the gap once again to a solitary point.

And then came the game’s decisive moment, when Russell first released Steyn on the right touchline, and then fired another devilish flat pass leftward to Fraser Brown, with Richie Gray and Jamie Ritchie handling brilliantly to open up all the space van der Merwe needed.

It was by no means a walk-in, but he is deadly when given half an inch with just 10 yards to make – and he swatted off white jerseys as if they were flies before carrying three tacklers over the line..

With just four minutes to go, all Scotland needed to do was close the door – which is, of course, much easier said than done.

England spent those tense final few moments camped deep inside the away team’s 22, but Scotland stood strong, and when Jamie Ritchie got over Ben Earl on the deck to earn a penalty which finally secured the win, the stadium erupted as if it was Murrayfield.


Teams –

England: F Steward; M Malins, J Marchant (O Lawrence 76), O Farrell, O Hassell-Collins (A Watson.b64); M Smith, J van Poortvliet (B Youngs 58); E Genge (M Vunipola 60), J George, K Sinckler (D Cole 60), M Itoje, O Chessum, L Ludlam, B Curry (N Isiekwe 60), A Dombrandt (B Earl 55). 

Scotland: S Hogg ( B Kinghorn, 65); K Steyn, H Jones (C Harris 75), S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell, B White (G Horne 69); P Schoeman (J Bhatti 65), G Turner (F Brown 58), W Nel (S Berghan 58), R Gray, G Gilchrist (J Gray 65), J Ritchie, L Crosbie (J Dempsey 58), M Fagerson.

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)


Scorers –

England: Tries: Malins 2, Genge; Con: Farrell; Pen: Farrell 2

Scotland: Tries: Jones, van der Merwe 2, Whuite; Cons: Russell 3; Pen: Russell.

Scoring sequence (England first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 5-12; 10-12; 13-12 (h-t) 18-12; 20-12; 20-17; 20-19; 23-19; 23-22; 23-27; 23-29.


Attendance: 81,545

U20s Six Nations: heroic Scotland give England a fright

About David Barnes 3991 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. It was a fine victory and some of our tries were brilliant, given we only had about 4 or 5 actual chances and took 4 of them it shows our execution on the day was fantastic. England played fairly well in alot of respects but will of course look at their defending at times. Ireland and France will not be so complacent in defence and if we come away with the same territory and possession stats against either of those 2 teams we will surely lose both games. The thing is that Wales at home at the weekend is such an utterly non negotiable must win match, if we lose that then im afraid Twickenham was really almost all for nothing. We know we can win the Calcutta Cup, but we want more. Wales are a nightmare for us, we have thrown games away so many times that were eminently winnable (2006, 2010, 2016, 2019, 2021, 2022 all spring to mind). For whatever reason they have a hoodoo and a mental edge over us, we invariably implode against them. Make no mistake Gatland will have them marching onto the pitch at Murrayfield come saturday with a complete superiority complex that they are a better team than us and should be beating us. We need to fight fire with fire and cant relent for a minute against them, this game could define this crop of Scotland players. I think the game away to Cardiff was a match of similar magnitude and we choked, we have another bite at the cherry this time round.

  2. The problem with Townsend has always been his selections, not his coaching. He got the selections correct on the weekend (for the first time since 2018, unbelievably) and the results naturally followed.

    I still feel we’re kicking the ball away far too often when on the attack inside the opposition 22 – Russell is especially guilty of this. VDM was obviously a colossus on the wing but was caught hopelessly out of position both both Mallins tries. He really needs to work on this. And people giveJones a hard time about defence?

    I was really impressed with Scotland’s calm under pressure and clinical work at the breakdown,
    only giving 9 penalties away. To be honest, the thing I’m scared about more than anything is the
    dreaded red card, which Refs seem to hand out for fun these days, deciding the direction of
    Six Nations titles (2020,2021) and no.1 world rankings. If we can avoid cards against Wales at the weekend, I’m quietly confident of a bonus point victory and about a ten point margin. If
    that happens, we’ll have one hand on the Triple crown for the first time in 33 years.

  3. Interestingly that result takes us up to 5th in the world rankings leapfrogging both Australia and England. That the highest its been since 2018.

  4. In the cold light of Monday video analysis there will be plenty to work on. We will meet better teams than England in this campaign and we dont want to get ahead of ourselves. Uppermost in the mind will be our lack of territory and possession and the fact that we’ve never beaten Gatland’s red wall rush defence. Lets hope we’ve worked out a decent plan for that by the weekend.

    • The majority commenting on this site last year wanted rig of him. Many wanted Vern back who if memory serves me correctly won 5 out of 15 6 Nations matches, never beat England.

      • I still want rid of him. I will never forget the embarrassment of taking a German friend to Murrayfield to watch the last world cup warm up game against Georgia, which was followed by a thumping by a far better prepared Irish team in the tournament itself. I won’t forget the baffling team selections, the 38-38 game at Twickenham or that Townsend said he didn’t include Russell in the autumn international squad until injury forced him to, claiming form justified his choice. One match does not banish the memories of us losing to Wales in the next match after beating England twice. No, Mr Milne, Townsend has not suddenly become good, his team has, showing the form the players had produced for their clubs. I still want rid of him.

      • Nobody hates Townsend and very few wanted Cotter back. However nany we’re questioning the selections, tactics, performances results and direction the team were heading after 6 years under his guidance.
        So after one result everything is rosy and Townsend is not to be questioned. Let’s just keep our powder dry and see how the remainder pans out. We have been here before honestly you would think people would learn.

      • There were some One Line GT must go comments but I think the primary comments of value were for Townsend to admit that some of his decisions were at the least misguided and questionable: suggesting a player of known quality as ‘he’s our 4th choice’ followed by a more objective description of his abilities a couple of outstanding games later being the most obvious and to a lesser degree myopic to quality players playing in a highly competitive EPL and I don’t think the pressure he put on Kinghorn to manipulate him into a Rod to beat Russell with was to the benefit of Scottish Rugby or Kinghorn either. Other observations are available.
        As regards Cotter statistics, statistics are compliant to various interpretations, for instance Cotter took over following on from a pair of Oz BS disasters in Williams and Johnson and the playing pool at the time wasn’t arguably the depth and quality of the recent past, and frankly I can only think on reflection it was sour grapes from Johnson that saw Cotter’s final home match at Murrayfield pass without even a ‘thank you’ over the Tannoy, when I thought the old BaBa’s farewell ‘Now is the Hour’ would have been a nice gesture.

      • There have been a few who seemed to want rid of Townsend as soon as he was appointed and they are entitled to their opinions. As always there will be a few disagreements on some selections but really only a few and outwith the Finn sagas i don’t get why there has been so much vitriol towards Gregor. Perhaps its the unrealistic expectation of Scotland being a great side. The 6 nations is incredibly tough and to get consistency over 5 games is a big ask against other improving sides. We should recognise the brilliant achievement of 3 win in a row against England and lets see if we can follow it up against Wales next week. The players need to bring that consistency and match winning savvy next week and we should celebrate another win and perhaps we can move on from the Townsend debate or perhaps not?

    • I’ve just been quietly smiling to myself. Similar to all the knockers of our youth system after running England U20’s so close. Smiling at all the knockers of our “ imports”. There will sell out crowds for all 3 matches in the 6 Nations, didn’t happen in my time before we won a grand slam 😊. I know it’s not all been perfect and there have been some bad moments but we are watching the most competitive and entertaining Scottish team we have had for a long time.
      It was interesting hearing from the great Jim Telfer how difficult a job the team and coaches have nowadays and how we are remaining competitive.
      Of course the wheels could fall off badly next week but I just have a feeling they won’t. One thing I’d love more than anything is to get the monkey off our back and beat Ireland before the WC.

  5. Could I raise a question about the Dark Arts that are the front row? As Michael C raises the question in the Player Ratings article, how come Genge and Cole were not ‘pinged’ for boring in, how is it possible to be almost at Right angles and pushing straight as seemed pretty obvious from the overhead camera, or am I at risk of showing I know even less than I thought I did.

    • you are correct George. Angling in at 45 degrees. It was obvious even without the OH camera. very poor officiating, as was the ignoring of human missiles over rucks, no arm tackles. It let the game flow, sure, but it rewarded dangerous play

      • I thought the referee was one of the best I’ve seen recently. From my own experience ( albeit a long time ago) it tends to be the tight head who bores, goes in at an angle and that is the one I’d penalise if I was a referee. However when a scrum is under pressure and the loose head starts drifting out or if the opposition is trying to wheel the scrum then it is sometime not easy for the tight head to stay straight and in these cases he shouldn’t be penalised, not easy to officiate. The overhead camera gives you an early indication of who is at fault, something the referee won’t pick up easily but the tmo could. However do we want tmo intervention for these types of offences, I don’t.

      • @Iain Milne: Goodmorning, Strange for you to say the overhead camera gives an early indication and then say you don’t want the TMO interference when there is all the Palaver these days about getting ‘a fair platform’ for the contest. The TMO and the reviews from the Ref and Touch Judges for other aspects of the game, was the tackle high, did the other player dip and all the other aspects yet actions you say are an early indication shouldn’t be addressed, I would have thought any actions that effect the stability of the set piece are as dangerous if not more so than an ineffective arm slipping up over the shoulder and touching a head that gets slow-mo after slow-mo from all angles whereas the overhead camera is an almost instant indication, not that I am looking for an argument, just trying to understand why actions that appear more obvious and potentially injurious shouldn’t be disciplined.

  6. MacDermerwe picked quite a good game to find out he can run round things as well as through them, didn’t he. What a great game! As mentioned elsewhere, the referee contributed to the occasion and it didn’t appear the whistle was blowing any more often than it had to.

    There were one or two if only moments, as there always will be l, and the space Malins enjoyed was a little frustrating until consideration was given to how it was earned and how effective Scotland’s defence was throughout. It wasn’t impregnable and couldn’t hope to be, but even the mauls didn’t roll very far, if they moved in the right direction at all. A superb team effort.

    From who was available, I was quite content with the starting XV, as it reflected form and that certainly showed. I hope there are no more than bruises from that battle, though there must be concerns for Hogg’s injury. Let’s hope we can keep up that dynamism in front of a home crowd, who I suspect might just be a little noisy on Saturday.

  7. Probably good that Toonie wasn’t sacked after the autumn internationals as so many on here wanted then eh?

    • Or should we be glad that our former attack coach AB Zondagh got a job offer in France?
      We now have the former AB attack coach who lost his job after Ireland won their test series in the summer.
      I haven’t seen us play with this clarity in the back line before. Maybe Toonie was the mastermind or perhaps it was Brad Mooar?

      • Don’t always agree with you, Sensisball,but that’s the most perceptive comment on here. Scotland won because they had a far sharper cutting edge. Maybe give Pete Horne a bit of credit too, but well said 👏

  8. One other thought. Brilliantly refereed. Refreshing to watch a game where the ref(or the TMO) doesn’t see themselves as the most important participant.

    • In most facets I would agree but he was totally wrong at the scrum. Allowed Cole to get away with blatantly angling in. Otherwise pretty decent though and actually thought ref was excellent in Italy France match.

  9. Fabulous game. Fabulous win. Gregor cops a lot of flak. Some deserved. Some not. So more than happy to give him credit for inspired selection and a superbly prepared side. But as ever it’s the players on the park who deserve the most plaudits. All of them from 1 to 23 were immense. The belief that they could win that game never wavered. Impossible to single out any individual from that performance. But like many others I would have picked Maitland and Horne over Steyn and White. Happy to admit I was wrong in that call and Gregor got it right. White was a Rolls Royce throughout, and Steyn put in a performance of sheer class. Now back it up against the Welsh. Nursing a head this morning. Feeling lousy but in a really good way. What the hell, off to the pub later.

  10. Feel so pleased for Gregor Townsend, as a friend said maybe come of age as a coach.
    George Turner outstanding. I said our lineout was outstanding during the Autumn series and we continued that theme. Ritchie Gray was so close to disrupting more England ball.
    Never won 3 in a row against England, 2 at Twickenham, not sure people realise how massive this is. A win against Wales next week and then let’s get the monkey of our backs and beat Ireland.
    U20’s Friday then Saturday, well done to everyone involved with Scottish rugby. 🐻

  11. Really good game and another win at Twickenham. Cannot criticize any of Scotland’s players , they were all great, great single performances and a great team performance. Thought Turner , Fagerson , Gray were outstanding in the forwards and VDM was well worth MOM grace with power and Jones tackled everything. If everyone is fit then there should be no changes against Wales. It was an interesting game at Cardiff yesterday , in as much as how Wales managed to contain Irelands game from 30 minutes until the
    last 10, next week is a must win , we must not take anything for granted.

    • I honestly think Saturday’s game against Wales is the biggest game for Scotland since the 2015 World Cup quarter final. Winning the first two games of the Six Nations will give us the momentum that every other team (except Italy) talks about through happy experience, but we never get the chance to.

  12. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, we looked so deadly with ball in hand and DVDMs try gave me goose bumps. To see a blue shirt scythe through so many white shirts at the home of Englsnd was a sight to behold and something I never thought I’d ever see. Too many good performances but Richie Grays quick hands for DVDM’s 2nd and how we repulsed their driving maul at the death and Jamie’s turnover made the difference when it counted. If we want to take the next step then we need to quickly forget about this result and get fired up for next week. That now becomes our single most important game and too often in the past we’d follow a big win with a bout of complacency. The Welsh are coming and they’re hurting and we need to be on our game from the first minute. C’mon Scotland.

  13. Disappointed to have missed the end of match scenes to an extended barrage of sofa ads.
    Want a good (and very satisfying) five minute read this morning ? – scan some of the post match reports and analysis emanating from south of the border !!!
    Apologies – couldn’t disguise a wry smile when I read that opposition fans were arguing about nail painting by English players ……….

  14. The running theme here seems like an age confession meeting.
    This was a really good game marked particularly by what was missing – the English steam road roller. I don’t know whether the muscle has gone or we countered it or is it just my Scottish insecurity saying ” did we really just do that?”
    And for my true confession moment, I played in leather boots that never dried out for the whole season & had to listen to Peter West commentating on the wireless.
    The first time I ever saw a rugby ball was my first time playing rugby in S1.

  15. Brilliant brilliant match. You had to be there to experience the atmosphere. Amazing

    The first time I’ve been at a Tickenham match and we’ve won. And that’s over a 25 year timeframe. The joy from the the Scottish contingent was fantastic.

    Amazingly not many English fans out tonight. Can’t think why 😁

  16. Well done to the players and coaches, it’s a really great win despite not really playing any Rugby for most of the first half! The Duhan fry in the first half will get all the replays but his second was a true team effort, look at Fraser Brown and Richie Gray’s composure as they went left to eventually score.

    Also the skill level of Tuipolotu to create the first try for his midfield partner. Thought Matt Fagerson was immense particularly in defence.

    Come on boys let’s try to back this up next week.

  17. Good grief our son has just said ‘I never thought I would hear Clive Woodward classify Scotland in the same breath as NZ or SA and describe us as ‘quality opposition’, wonders will never cease.
    In efforts like this there are never stand out players, it truly is/was a ‘Team’ effort but VdM what a Try from his own 10m line: superb, similarly just as White was in a position to leave the England lack of defence exploited it all stems from Team pressure and alertness.
    Nel was superb and an inspiration, so much for the worry that without Zander F we would be in trouble. Will Darcy Graham be fit for the next fixture, what of Hamish Watson? For the first time in years it is more than an excellent XV there is quality in depth.
    However the most important thing is to remember Wales next week will be desperate to make amends for a dismal display, or was it? Well yes in part but Ireland had the game done and dusted in 20 minutes, so beware of an injured Welsh team next week.
    A word about Kinghorn, he came on and showed he is an excellent player in the back three BUT an emergency 10 lets hope that GT understands that going forward. No doubt VdM will get headlines, deservedly so but it was a superb team effort. Huw Jones excellent and what about Finn, the odd stumble but superb control and vision.
    Almost abstemious during the game enjoying Traquier Ales [Jacobite and House] I have now decided to go on to the Auchentoshan as I watch the game again and the merry oblivion that beckons.

  18. This was a magnificent victory. So many times over the years have i watched a Scotland game and said we actually played quite well but lost. Today we played quite well and won. England actually played quite well also but we took our chances and even with only 29% territory and 43% possession we were clinical when the chances came.

    We won’t want to concede these sort of stats to Ireland or France and Im sure we will want to look at our kicking game which wasn’t that great and contributed towards Englands territorial dominance. i didn’t think Russel played that well with some poor kicks out of hand but his distribution was good. VDM, Jones. Tuipulotu and Steyn all good and White scored a great try.

    In the forwards lots of good contributions with Fagerson, Gilchrist and Turner immense. The set piece was generally good and a lot of good defensive work.

    We need to switch on next week against Wales as whilst they may have been well beaten today there were plenty of signs of promise and we cant be complacent.

  19. That was a good game, end to end, great tries and some terrific skill. Thought we looked confident and never thought we were panicking. Satisfying to see us go up the park work a great team try and then play out the game. Hopefully we can back it up against Wales.

  20. Best win I can recall as a 55+ individual – well done for Toonie for throwing caution to the wind with selecting those in form which paid off. I had to come back from club to let dogs out otherwise a long night on that sauce was on the cards. Great game, better win, records broken, but keep the heid!

    As an advert for what is good about rugby, it had it all.

    Absolutely fantastic, Just need to back it up to live up to the potential!

    • Dog lovers everywhere understand your sacrifice, just remember the Dogs were there, faithful as ever when we were being shafted.

  21. Well that was an exciting watch! Moment of the match for me was in the lead up to our last try where Russell was pinging the ball around and it went through the hands of R. Gray and Fagerson before VDM. Proper 15 man rugby with great passing skills throughout. Lets hope all our forthcoming games are played in dry weather.
    Great to see Gray lasting the game and Nel putting in a big shift as well.

  22. Mind blowing how much English kicked the ball away and how that 9 starts for them is beyond me…but then again who cares. Great result. Would prefer Horne over White and thought Kinghorn was excellent as were both wingers. Huge shout out to centres though. Defensively solid and always a threat with the ball. Back row needs to do more but a lovely sequence against England which as a grizzled 50 year makes a refreshing change.lets back it up against the Welsh Vets side now

      • Yep white certainly wasn’t poor but I just think Horne is a touch more dynamic. Certainly White is in better nick than Price. We need to keep the service quick and slick so the back line can keep the back line purring. Ireland and France are a long way ahead of England at the moment so we need to keep pushing….still buzzing though as it’s incredibly rare for us to have the number on a top tier side over the course of a few years. If I was an English fan I’d be filming looking at the talent they have available and the performance levels since RWC. On a separate note thought the Liam Williams dive v Ireland was poor stuff. That needs clamping down on.

      • Replying to Dogma’s second post ..

        I suppose the great thing is we have several very good scrum halves and I guess you just have to hope that GT sees them play in detail and can chose the best …

    • Yeah Horne’s service is faster. Toonie should let him start. His box kicking isn’t great but that tactic has demonstrated it doesn’t deliver for any team.

  23. At last! Finally Van Der Merwe straightens up, runs forward, rather than the usual across the park, and hey two tries 😃
    Great squad performance, but got to keep it going next Saturday.

  24. A fine win. Obv Der Merwe and White had fine games. Russell and Hogg seemed to be close to par.

    As someone in their 40s, this result over my lifetime is a fantastic win. Scotland seemed to have a great temperament, a real professionalism to close the game out. Maybe that little something we’ve missed over the years. The result is very pleasing as a fan.

    • That we can win at Twickenham with Russell and Hogg far from their best is pretty damn pleasing!

      Kinghorn showing exactly what he is – a very good option to bring off the bench.

    • You’re not joking, as someone in their 60’s I’m lucky enough to remember the better times long ago .some fantastic games and wins and some superstar players.

      This was something different from the boys, and worthy of their predecessors.

      Duhan I think only had the ball 3 times, and two scores.

      The even better thing was just after half time, England scored a good try and I thought, oh no ….. but we held them and hit back … cloud cuckoo land for me and several beers and whiskies to follow !

      Now if only we can take it seriously and turn over Wales …..

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