South African connection stars as Scotland upsets England
SIX NATIONS MATCH REPORT: Scotland ended their 38-year wait for a win at Twickenham with an 11-6 success over reigning champions England in the teams’ opener on Saturday.
Scotland’s South African wing Duhan van der Merwe scored the only try of the match, as the Scots won at Twickenham for the first time since 1983 and for just the fifth time in their history.
His effort ultimately proved the difference between the sides in a match where England paid dearly for their indiscipline, even though both home captain Owen Farrell and Scotland fly-half Finn Russell kicked two penalties apiece.
As the rain lashed down after half-time, Scotland captain Stuart Hogg kept England pinned deep inside their own half as the Scots enjoyed a first Calcutta Cup success at Twickenham since a 22-12 success in 1983.
Saturday marked the 150th anniversary of rugby’s oldest Test fixture.
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The away side dominated territory and possession in the first half yet they only led 8-6 at the break before Russell’s second penalty proved the only score after half-time.
Before kick-off, there was a minute’s applause in memory of several England internationals who had died in recent months, including former captain John Pullin.
England, with British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland looking on from the otherwise largely empty stands, almost had an early score when lock Maro Itoje charged down Scotland scrum-half Ali Price’s clearance kick.
But England then infringed at the ensuing ruck.
The hosts found themselves repeatedly getting on the wrong side of Irish referee Andrew Brace, conceding four penalties in the opening five minutes.
When they infringed in front of their posts, Russell – the inspiration behind a comeback from 9-31 down in a 38-all draw at Twickenham two years ago – kicked his outfit into a 3-0 lead.
Scotland was growing in confidence, with hooker George Turner deliberately throwing the ball long to debutant centre Cameron Redpath.
Their pressure saw England reduced to 14 men in the 24th minute when No 8 Billy Vunipola was sin-binned for a high tackle on Russell.
Four minutes later, Scotland almost had try when Russell’s cross-kick bounced just too high for van der Merwe as the left wing looked to touch down.
But in the 30th minute the visitors’ dominance was rewarded.
After an England scrum missing injured prop Mako Vunipola and fellow front row Joe Marler, who dropped out of the squad for family reasons, had repeatedly come under strain near their own line, Russell’s cross-kick was knocked back by Scotland wing Sean Maitland.
The ball was worked across field, with Redpath and Hogg involved before Turner found van der Merwe.
England fullback Elliot Daly missed a tackle and Van der Merwe forced his way over despite flank Mark Wilson’s last-gasp effort to stop him.
Russell was off-target with the conversion, but Scotland still led 8-0.
Farrell reduced the deficit with a long-range penalty and just before half time it was Scotland, with Vunipola back on the field, who were a man down when a replay check saw Russell yellow-carded for tripping England scrum-half Ben Youngs.
Farrell kicked the ensuing penalty and Scotland led by just two points at the break.
But Hogg’s penalty kick for an attacking line-out near England’s line gave Scotland good field position.
Following several drives, England prop Ellis Genge was penalised and Russell, having completed his 10-minute suspension, kicked Scotland into an 11-6 lead.
But he was off-target in the 53rd minute after yet another England infringement, this time for obstruction.
Fullback Hogg, however, kept England pinned in their own half with a succession of excellent long-range kicks on an increasingly rainswept pitch.
With eight minutes left, Hogg missed a penalty from just inside England’s half but Scotland was not to be denied a famous victory.
Man of the match: Maro Itoje had his moments, but his discipline (four penalties) cost him. Prop Will Stuart and flank Mark Wilson were the most productive of the England players. The Scottish forwards, to a man, were brave and brutal. You can also look at the influence of backs like Finn Russell, Cameron Redpath and Stuart Hogg. Our award goes to the try-scorer and match-winner – Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe.
Moment of the match: In such testing conditions and a low-scoring match the only try proved vital – when wing Duhan van der Merwe went over on the half-hour mark – following some Finn Russell magic.
Villain: Finn Russell was both hero and villain, as his trip on an opponent not only cost him 10 minutes in the sin bin, but also put his team under pressure at a crucial stage.
Pens: Farrell 2
Try: Van der Merwe
Pens: Russell 2
Yellow card: Billy Vunipola (England, 24 – repeated infringements, offside), Finn Russell (Scotland, 38 – foul play, tripping an opponent)
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 George Ford, 23 Max Malins.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 David Cherry, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Huw Jones.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)