Six Nations: Calcutta Cup: Scotland v England live blog …

The home team have racked up their fourth successive win in the fixture for the first time since 1972

Duhan second try
Duhan van der Merwe scores his and Scotland's second try. Image: Craig Watson.

Thank you for reading The Offside Line’s live blog. Please feel free to keep adding your comments here – and on our next matchday blog, when Scotland take on Italy in Rome in a fortnight.


The stadium has just about emptied, and a happy Scotland support are heading home, including Mike Westwood’s party from Aberdeen Wanderers Youth RFC. Their considered verdict? “The win was never in doubt.”

Aberdeen

 


Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has also assessed Van der Merwe’s historic hat-trick, starting with that second try:

“That he doesn’t step into touch!,” he said when asked what he was thinking as the winger sprinted free down the left. “I think he was teasing with us because he was very close, and even when he finished his try.

“I think that ability to back yourself…. because he could easily have slowed down and tried to step someone and use his power but he just went for it and that was great.

“There’s risk and reward with that because if you go for it and you’re tackled then you’re in touch but he had enough pace to get there and I’m sure there will be footage of us jumping up and down in the coaches’ box.”

On Van der Merwe being just one short of  Scotland’s all-time try record:

“Yeah, and he’s got a lot of rugby ahead of him. Darcy Graham is up in those high numbers too and has a lot of rugby ahead of him.

“The threat we have out wide, with Kyle Steyn too and other guys who have played for us, puts teams under pressure. They can’t just focus on our midfield and there will be space on the field and I’m glad Duhan found it today.

“It is a great achievement and Duhan is actually very humble,” Townsend added of the hat-trick as a whole. “I was praising him for his [yellow-card] tackle, I think it’s the best tackle I’ve seen from him and how that went to report… I don’t know what game we’re watching now. A very good tackle that could be a red card – it just seems crazy.

“He did a lot of work in the France game with no reward. Today, that work brought him reward.”


Scotland co-captain Rory Darge reacts to the victory and praises man of the match Duhan van der Merwe.

“We’re delighted to get the win. There were things we didn’t do well, but we got the opportunities in the first half and took them well. We had spoken about momentum through the week and when it was with us, we really leaned into it.

“It’s a very different feeling in the changing room compared to two weeks ago. Even though there were bits we didn’t do well, to win with a nine-point margin, we’re delighted.

“It was scrappy to start with for sure, but we weathered that. We made a few mistakes, and part of that was the pressure England put us under.

“Finn [Russell] and Benny [White] controlled the game and put us in the right places, and the forwards went to work on the back of that.”

And on Van der Merwe’s second try:

“It’s game-changing when he has a half-opportunity, takes it and scores. That’s a massive momentum-swinger. As a forward, it’s definitely nice to see when you’re working hard in the rucks and you see Duhan run the length. It’s such a good feeling.”


  • 8.20pm

The press conferences are over, the mixed zone has been emptied. Here is some of the key reaction from both sides.

First up, England coach Steve Borthwick offers his thoughts on the match.

“When you make that number of handling errors at this level, it’s very difficult to win, especially against a team of Scotland’s quality. Ultimately we made it too easy for Scotland to score, but they were very clinical. It’s a huge lesson for our team as we grow. The number of turnovers made it very difficult to win.
“We’d all love progression to be a nice linear path but ultimately it’s not, especially when you are trying to do it at this level. What you saw is a team that is trying to develop, a team that is trying to add layers to their game.
“We made errors today and got punished – sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don’t. Against a team like Scotland you don’t. It’s a very painful lesson. They had a lot of experience – I think that’s the first time our 10,12,13 had started together and it looked like that, didn’t it? There was a lack of cohesion and too many fundamental errors.
“After a defeat and performance when you don’t think you’ve maximised your potential, it’s always disappointment. I don’t think the team maximised their potential today.”

 


Robson
Scottish Rugby’s soon-to-retire Dr James Robson celebrates with the Calcutta Cup.

Wanderers
The Wanderers’ lucky mascot has struck again – even if he doesn’t seem totally happy with the result.

FULL-TIME

Scotland 30 England 21

That’s it, a historic fourth consecutive win over England. Exhausting stuff. Let’s all watch the game again a bit later when we’ve cooled down a bit.

It can’t be often that Scotland give England a 10-point start yet end up winning with something to spare. It was by no means a perfect performance, and may not have been the commanding display that some had hoped for, but it certainly showed the team’s strength of character – especially on the back of that last-gasp defeat by France a fortnight ago.

England’s defeat means that Ireland – who beat Wales 31-7 earlier – are now the only team left who can complete a Grand Slam.  The Irish are clear at the top of the Six Nations table with 15 points. Scotland are second on 9, a point ahead of England. France can go second if they beat Italy with a bonus point and by a big enough margin today.


  • 78 minutes YELLOW CARD

Another England penalty to touch. Van der Merwe is yellow-carded for foul play and Scotland will play the remaining seconds a man down. England attack but the defence wins a scrum at the breakdown.

 


  • 76 minutes.

Redpath is back on. England send a penalty from their own half into home territory. They start to fling the ball around after winning the lineout, but a loose pass evades its intended recipient and goes out for a Scotland throw-in.

 


  • 72 minutes

Redpath goes off clutching a bleeding nose and is replaced by Ben Healy.


  • 70 minutes

Scotland win the put-in as an English attack is held up by Dempsey. Ball won cleanly and Russell clears long.


  • 67 minutes 

Scotland 30 England 21

Any notion that a 14-point lead means the game is over is immediately dispelled as replacement Immanuel Feyi-Waboso finishes off all too easily. But Ford’s conversion attempt comes back off an upright, leaving the gap at nine points.

Sam Skinner is on for Grant Gilchrist.


  • 65 minutes

Scotland 30 England 16

England are penalised for an offence on the deck and Russell adds three more points to his haul from just inside the opposition 10-metre line.


  • 62 minutes

Millar-Mills is back on for Fagerson, Alec Hepburn replaces Pierre Schoeman, and George Horne comes on for Ben White.

 


  • 57 minutes

Scotland 27 England 16

England are penalised for offside after a ferocious run by Jack Dempsey. Russell converts from the edge of the 22.

 


  • 53 minutes

Andy Christie and Ewan Ashman are on for Jamie Ritchie and George Turner respectively. Is this game becoming more structured and calming down a bit? Or, more likely, are the players just beginning to feel some understandable fatigue after their lung-bursting efforts?

 


  • 49 minutes

Scotland 24 England 16

Referee Andrew Brace awards England a penalty well inside the Scots 22. We’re having a review for potential foul play, but nothing comes of it and Ford strokes over the three points.

 


  • 45 minutes

Scotland 24 England 13

That’s the hat-trick for Van der Merwe. Redpath starts it with a midfield break, then Russell sends a curving punt towards the left corner flag, where the winger gathers on the bounce to add another try to his tally. That’s Van der Merwe’s 26th try for Scotland – just one shy of equalling  Stuart Hogg’s all-time record.

Oh, and according to people who have a firmer grasp on sporting history than us, that’s the first Scotland hat-trick in a Calcutta Cup match.

Russell converts and Scotland are 11 points clear.

 


  • 42 minutes

Cam Redpath comes on for Tuipulotu. The Warriors centre was last back on to the pitch and was clearly limping. The half-time patch-up cannot have worked as hoped.

 


  • 41 minutes

Russell kicks off and the second half is under way. The game is in the balance, there to be seized by which ever team are able to cut down on their error count. Although, given the number of mistakes and the high-risk nature of some of the attacks, we seem sure to witness a second half just as frenzied as the first.

 


  • Half-time

A frantic first 40 ends with Scotland just ahead on the scoreboard.


  • 36 minutes

Scotland 17 England 13

A quick drop goal from Ford reduces Scotland’s lead to four points.


  • 34 minutes

Scotland 17 England 10

England concede a penalty for offside right in front of their own posts and Russell adds the three points.


  • 30 minutes

Scotland 14 England 10

A slightly too high pass by Ford bounces off Furbank’s head and falls to Huw Jones. He passes to Van der Merwe, who beats two men on the outside – which makes it sound easy, only it’s not – and touches down in the left corner. Russell converts and the home team are ahead for the first time.

Aberdeen reaction
A member of the Aberdeen contingent shows his relief as Scotland take the lead for the first time.

 


  • 27 minutes 

England are back on the front foot as they bid to extend their lead, but the Scots defence is up to the task.


  • 20 minutes

Scotland 7 England 10

Clean ball from the scrum sees Sione Tuipulotu put Huw Jones into space. The centre is grounded but pops up a pass to Duhan van der Merwe, who finishes off from around 15 metres out. Finn Russell converts and that scoreline is suddenly looking a lot brighter.


  • 16 minutes

Fagerson is about to come back on to the pitch – a reassuring sign for Scotland given the Glasgow man’s status as indisputable first choice at tighthead.


  • 14 minutes

Scotland 0 England 10

England are awarded a penalty for a player going off his feet and Ford makes no mistake from the edge of the 22.


  • 12 minutes

A couple of knock-ons have ended England attacks, but there is no denying that they are in the ascendancy at present.


  • 7 minutes 

Zander Fagerson goes off for an HIA and is replaced by Elliot Millar-Mills. Scotland are penalised at the next scrum for collapsing.  They need to calm things down a little and get a couple of basics right.


  • 5 minutes

Scotland 0 England 5

That scrum put-in became an England free-kick after an early engagement. The visitors go for the scrum, win clean ball, and full-back George Furbank goes through all too easily. Ford adds the conversion.


  • 3 minutes

England mount the first real attack of the game but the ball is lost forward and it’s a Scotland put-in at the scrum.


  • Kick-off

England fly-half George Ford gets the game under way. Blair Kinghorn takes. A positive, assertive start from the full-back, returning from injury after missing the last two games.


 

4.30pm

The scene is set, the teams are about to come out for the anthems, and the nerves are beginning to jangle among at least some members of the home support. Perhaps we will never be comfortable with being favourites, or maybe those nerves arise from a knowledge that, whatever the bookies say, this match could well go either way.

Both teams have some obvious strong points and clear vulnerabilities.  Both are all too capable of committing unforced errors. Let’s hope this game is decided by brilliance not blunders.

No late changes to either side, by the way.

 

Fans mingle in the build-up to kick-off. Image: Craig Watson.

 

  • 4pm

A reminder from the Aberdeen crew of an earlier visit for the Calcutta Cup. They witnessed a Scotland victory that day . . . . Will it be the same today? Not long until we find out.

Aberdeen then and now.

 

3.30pm

Wanderers have arrived.

Wanderers

  • 1.45pm

Three hours to go. The journey to Murrayfield continues.

Bus
Aberdeen Wanderers have brought their lucky mascot with them – apparently every time coach Richard comes, Scotland win. Image: Mike Westwood.

 

  • 12.31pm

Just over four hours until kick-off, and the journey to Murrayfield has begun for many. Mike Westwood, the winner of The Offside Line’s Voice In The Crowd competition, is heading south by bus with a group from Aberdeen Wanderers Youth RFC . Look out for regular updates from Mike throughout the afternoon.

Aberdeen Wanderers Youth RFC
Aberdeen Wanderers Youth RFC prepare to set off for Murrayfield. Image: Mike Westwood.

  • Saturday: 7.17

It’s match day!

Calcutta Cup preview: Scotland must play to their strengths to make superiority over England count


  • Friday: 9.07pm

Scotland Under-20s have lost 17-30 to their English counterparts at Hive Stadium despite a spirited second-half fightback. Kenny Murray’s side were 18-0 down at the break and fell further behind before getting off the mark. Glasgow lock Euan McVie opened their account with a try following a tap penalty, and Edinburgh’s Isaac Coates added the conversion.  The home side finished strongly with tries from Edinburgh flanker Freddie Douglas and Ealing centre Geordie Gywnn.

U20s 6N: slow starting Scotland lose again against England


  • Friday: 5.10pm

Scotland captain Finn Russell has discussed the reasons behind his team’s having the upper hand against England in recent years, and has assessed hpw he might deal with the blitz defence that England are expected to employ. “I’m not sure what England are going to do – fly out of the line and take me out, or if they are going to try to shut me down from the outside, but that’s something we will have to figure out in the game,” he said.

Full interview on this website at 10pm.


  • Thursday: 10pm

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has revealed that Darcy Graham will miss the remainder of the Six Nations through injury and that denied that Scottish Rugby had any interaction with World Rugby beyond the regular feedback process following the loss to France two weekends ago.

Townsend also discussed his frustration with ‘Dupont’s Law’, which creates kick-tennis battles and discourages counter-attacking rugby.

Calcutta Cup: Gregor Townsend delivers disappointing update on Darcy Graham’s injury


  • Thursday: 2.42pm

Both teams are out, with Scotland adding Blair Kinghorn, Kyle Steyn and former captain Jamie Ritchie to the starting XV, while England have made five changes including George Furbank in for Freddie Steward at full-back and Danny Care making his first Six Nations start in six years at scrum-half.

To hear head coach Gregor Townsend’s explanation of some of his big selection calls, click HERE.

Scotland (versus England at Murrayfield Stadium, Saturday, 4.45pm): B Kinghorn; K Steyn, H Jones, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell (c), B White; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist, S Cummings, J Rirtchie, R Darge, J Dempsey Substitutes: E Ashman, A Hepburn, E Millar-Mills, S Skinner, A Christie, G Horne, B Healy, C Redpath.

England: G Furbank; T Freeman, H Slade, O Lawrence, E Daly; G Ford, D Care; E Genge, J George (capt), D Cole, M Itoje, O Chessum, E Roots, S Underhill, B Earl. Substitutes: T Dan, J Marler, W Stuart, G Martin, C Cunningham-South, B Spencer, F Smith, I Feyi-Waboso.


“I might have a little run-out for Hawick next season and see how that goes,” says Stuart Hogg

8 Comments

  1. Belief needed throughout 80mins take no prisoners and be ruthless ongoing to the final whistle.
    Pedal to the Metal

  2. One thing not being mentioned is that it’s Mark Dodsons last home game as CEO. One wonders if he will get the send off his tenure deserves….

  3. Scotland have to play with aggression. They haven’t so far this season and Edinburgh v Parma was a seriously limp effort. No fire, no anger…the last person to really show agro for Scotland was Ryan Wilson in the Twickers tunnel. We need a Mahony, Joe Marler, someone to Lose it and fire everyone up. Magnus should be playing…..

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  4. I reckon England haven’t got the players to blitz defence us.
    Their backs are chosen to run, it looks like it’s going to be a perfect day for running rugby so it may be an exciting spectacle.

  5. Ok third attempt to post this (not sure it’s worth the effort!) …
    Really like this format, great for discussion of the before and after..

    Think we may struggle if England go for the blitz defence, seemed like that was our problem v France, but maybe we’ve learned a thing ick or two to get round them.

    Can’t be bothered with all the chat on the other topic re DVdM and foreign imports, wish everyone would just get over it all.

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  6. Im nervous ahead of this one, If England bring there power game and make it a slug fest, we could struggle. Their forwards on the bench can make a real impact if its tight with 20 min to go.

    I am intersted to see how we are going to counter Englands ‘Blitz’ defence, hopefully Finn and the boys have something up their sleeve, as we have seen how it strangled our attack when we played SA and Ire in the WC.

    Fingers crossed for a full 80 min peeformance from the boys with no Ref/TMO controversies 🙏

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