Scotland v England: late Ellis Genge try decides windswept encounter

Blair Kinghorn
Scotland winger Blair Kinghorn on the attack against England. Image: © Craig Watson.

Scotland 6

England 13

STUART BATHGATE  @ Murrayfield

SOMETIMES a weather report explains the outcome of a match as well as any more detailed analysis. It rained a lot, the wind was strong but trickily variable, and those two factors were influential in any number of aspects of play in this Calcutta Cup encounter. 

Scotland played most of the rugby – even if there was not a lot of that, especially in a first half where kicking predominated – and they also tried hardest to adapt to the conditions. But while Owen Farrell was profligate with the boot, England had more chances to score, and took more too. 

A Farrell penalty was the only score of the first half and was cancelled out by one from Adam Hastings five minutes into the second period. We had to wait nearly half an hour after that for the next score, and when it came it was decisive, with Ellis Genge getting a try from close range and Farrell converting to make it two from five with the boot.

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Scotland had begun well against Ireland and were intent on doing the same thing; England had hardly got into their stride in the whole of the first half and against France and were determined to avoid a repeat. It was no surprise, then, that both teams tore into each other right from the off.

Sam Johnson’s kick-chase from the kick-off was timed perfectly, and the inside centre felled Jonny May with an excellent tackle. England recycled efficiently, however, and were soon deep inside home territory, albeit after regathering a high free-kick which was blown back towards them. The wind had been strengthening and the rain getting heavier for some time before kick-off, and although Scotland had the elements at their backs in the first half, they found it hard to exert control. 

Farrell was short with a penalty attempt from wide on the left after Scott Cummings had offended, but the England centre then made no mistake with a far easier effort minutes later. That score after ten minutes was the only one of the first quarter, which ended with Scotland on top but unable to establish the solid platform they needed to mount a serious assault on their opponents’ line. 

A counter-attack by Blair Kinghorn briefly promised to establish one as the second quarter began, but England won possession at the breakdown and the chance was gone. The visitors’ recycling was noticeably slicker when they were on the attack, but the same could not be said of Farrell’s kicking: when Scotland were penalised on the deck after 25 minutes, the No 12 again misjudged the wind from the edge of the 22 and sent his penalty curling wide of the far post.

Five minutes from half-time Stuart Hogg opted to kick for touch rather than go for goal when Scotland were awarded a penalty some 35 metres out, but his low kick was kept in by the England defence.

That looked like being the last chance of a score in the first 40, but then Adam Hastings kicked out on the full to give England the opportunity to attack from a lineout just outside the Scots 22. They eventually set up a decent position, but George Ford’s drop-goal attempt went wide.

After both sides had toiled for 40 minutes for almost no reward, we nearly witnessed a score out of almost nothing at the start of the second half, when an attempted Scots clearance was charged down only for the ball to go dead. Then Rory Sutherland set of on barging run through midfield, providing a useful reminder to the backs on both sides that despite the conditions it was still possible to play running rugby.

Scotland stayed on the attack after the loosehead’s intervention, and were eventually awarded a penalty, given against England openside Sam Underhill. Hastings chipped it over to make it 3-3 after 45 minutes.

That meant there would at least be no repeat of the 1933 match – the last to be won 3-0 by either side – and encouraged us to believe that there would be further scores provided the teams played sensibly with ball in hand rather than merely booting the ball into the air and encouraging their opponents to make a mistake. It also encouraged Scotland to have that little bit more belief in themselves, and a Hogg counter-attack from deep gained some 60 metres and gave renewed voice to the crowd.

As the final quarter began, the home team had clearly started to deal with the conditions better than England, whose backs had kicked out on the full three or four times in the 10-minute spell that preceded the hour mark. Both sides had begun to make substitutions by then, with the 6-2 forwards-backs split on the England bench being a clear indication of where Eddie Jones thought the game could be won: up front, in close-quarters combat, where brawn could prevail over brain.

After 65 minutes, a wheeled scrum gave Farrell the chance to put England back into the lead with a penalty from nearly 40 metres out. He struck it low and straight, but it was wide of the near post this time, so 3-3 it remained.

Well, for a few minutes anyway. When Ford chipped through, Hogg made a guddle of trying to chase it down as it bobbled towards the goal line, and eventually tried to touch it down as it went over the line close to a post. It was uncertain whether he had applied downward pressure, and Farrell dived on it to touch down, but the TMO ruled in favour of the full-back, who hardly needed another glaring error after his failure to score a try last week in Dublin.

That was only a brief reprieve, however, as England got good ball from the five-metre scrum, and a few phases late substitute prop Ellis Genge forced his way over.  Farrell converted to make it 10-3, and added another penalty a few minutes from time. That put Scotland outside losing-bonus territory, but Hastings stepped up with two minutes to play to knock over a penalty and ensure that solitary match point. It was the least that Scotland deserved.

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Teams –

Scotland: S Hogg; S Maitland, H Jones, S Johnson, B Kinghorn; A Hastings, A Price; R Sutherland, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, J Ritchie, H Watson, M Bradbury. Substitutes: S McInally, A Dell, S Berghan, B Toolis, N Haining, G Horne, R Hutchinson, C Harris.

England: G Furbank; J May, J Joseph, O Farrell, E Daly; G Ford, W Heinz; M Viunipola, J George, K Sinckler, M Itoje, G Kruis, L Ludlam, S Underhill, T Curry. Substitutes: T Dunn, E Genge, W Stuart, J Launchbury, C Lawes, B Earl, B Youngs, O Devoto.  

Referee: P Gauzere (France).

Scorers: Scotland: Pens: Hastings 2.

England: Try: Genge. Con: Farrell. Pens: Farrell 2.

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 0-3, half-time, 3-3, 3-8, 3-10, 3-13, 6-13.




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About Stuart Bathgate 1330 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.


  1. We do not score from close range because we do not have enough good ball carriers that can break the line or at least go forward . Hence reason we go to pod of 3 to make progress common problem for all teams at present but biggest for Scotland. Why ? Well selection has something to do with it but lack of choice is another. Selection Richie and Watson to similar not the right size for barrelling over with explosive short range pace. Numbers Scotland have around 44k active Rugby players England 380k France 530k Ireland 110k Wales ( population half that of Scotland ) 90k . But there are only 15 players on pitch truth is we have a significantly smaller pool to pick from because football is our national sport around 400k active adult players and the underperformance in this area IS embarrassing. So back to the ball carrying Gregor has to change the back row mix Right now based on availability I would look to the future and pick Crosbie , Hanning Richie and bring Watson on from bench later if game breaks up . As for backs I really fear for Hogg he is not the player he was pace is down and he is so passionate he freezes under pressure. He has been a great captain tho difficult one on balance stick with him As for rest we have no great option but boy do we miss Darcy in my option he has the makings of one of the best wingers Scotland has ever had – last Edinburgh game was nothing short of world class even although opposition was not the best. A few years ago I was depressed but we are making progress We just need more depth hopefully academy structure and Super six will give us this but for the long run we MUST get playing numbers up. Chin up only Italy away next another banana skin ?

    • Yes a smaller pool of players, but we need to play to strengths (as Cotter was). Yet are competing up front and making ground, but granted losing ball in the contact too often. However, I feel we seem to get tunnel vision in that final part of the play, and the decion makers such as Ali price needs to know when to try a different tac. The forwards often have had good effect in the pick and go, to get us in the final zone, they then become pedictable and easy to defend so the movement slows down to almost stop (not helped by being a bit lighter than opposition). However, playing with Adam – Ali doesn’t seem to be making the right calls when it counts and keeps it in the forwards than be seen to take a risker descion. But when Russel is say on Ali’s shoulder, there been more try’s score of recent times than many years before. I do agree with towsend on this Hog is good, but we are putting him under a new pressure as captain and also we don’t gain points and momentum when we should be winning. Consequent (odd) mistakes standout more painfully – but no more than for him. I doubt Darcy would have gotten ghe ball in last game!

  2. A poor match played in terrible conditions.

    Still the same basic errors from scotland. 7 line outs lost, 21 turnovers, 7 pens and 2 free kicks conceded.

    England back row were all over us hence the turnover rate.

    Would Russell have made the crucial difference? Not based on the above stats but we can’t play without our best players on the pitch.

    The good news? Wales were terrible yesterday as well and hopefully Italy will be demoralised by the time we meet them.

  3. I don’t think either team really planned well for a game in the conditions that the weather created. Wind seemed to mess around every high ball kicked or even thrown (lineouts). Athough our lineout malfunction couldn’t be blamed purely on weather, however, gusts of wind could have meant Fraser over through ball in an attempt to stop the wind blowing ball off it’s course. The weather was forecast well in advance, and wasn’t a surprise. Either way Scotland again had good pressure terriorty and possession in places where they should have gain points on board, and won, but failed to realise them! Unlike Ireland and England who made points on the smallest and lest oppertunity given. This is a pattern we have seen before. I feel we need regain discpline to cut down penalties. Plus Towend needs to not only get FR back to help unlock stuffy defenses, but he also needs to have a chat with Cotter! Best losers is not a badge anyone wants.

  4. Robert, interesting that you mention “If you take the ball standing still, then you won’t make ground.” That has been obvious concern to me ever since Townsend took over.
    I am not a rugby coach so I keep asking myself the same question. At the scrum the ball is given to a player(standing still) barely a couple of meters away. With the opposition defence similarly positioned. The Scotland player is crunched almost on the spot. No momentum has been built up so they fall exactly where they stand. Can some rugby knowledgeable person explain to me the value in this approach? I am willing to learn.
    Today, in the build up to the English try the ball was thrown further back from the scum. The player collecting the pass moved and built momentum and moved forward before any Scottish player made a tackle. Even then the momentum assisted them in gaining ground. Surely basic physics tells you that is a better move?
    Maybe I’m missing the finer points of the game, so I look forward to being enlightened on why Scotland continually go through the same move(bad choice of word as move is totally absent) again and again?

  5. Had to have a wry smile when I heard (had tuned out by this point as it had become cringe-worthy) Hastings had knocked over a penalty for a bonus point as though this ‘team’ will have a say down the line in the championship. For me, it pretty much sums up what we’ve become, deluded and completely lacking a winning mentality. These are supposed to be professionals whose job it is to figure out how to win games in any conditions. They are a disgrace and an absolute embarrassment.

  6. Townsend OUT. Where is Russell (best short kicker in the world), where is Ritchie Gray? How is Fraser Brown (single handedly dismantled the lineout) in leadership group and starting over McInally? Nothing to do with weather. Useless English side, but Scotland, with home advantage, were a clueless mess from front to back. Mentally weak and cannot complete basic schoolboy drills. Disgrace.

    • Agreed but your comments “Scotland played most of the rugby” really!England were not good but they did not have to be.
      I have supported Scotland and gone to the matches for a long time but to leave Russel out and in the same breath double your salary with no results for Scotland.
      Start funding another pro team or at least attract some good key players to Glasgow or Edinburgh.
      If you take the ball standing still,then you will not make ground,simple.Lets have a change,good fast attack,good defence.Edwards has made such a difference to France already.Our best people leave and make a difference elsewhere, Edinburgh Ulster,Glasgow Ulster,Glasgow Australia.

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