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Player Ratings: So close

OPINION: Scotland won consecutive Calcutta Cups for the first time since 1984 by claiming a tense 20-17 win at rainy Murrayfield.

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A try from replacement scrumhalf Ben White plus a conversion and penalty from Finn Russell gave Scotland a 10-6 half-time lead.

Marcus Smith kicked two penalties before the break for the visitors then added a try and two further three-pointers after the restart.

Paul Smith rates the England players

15 FREDDIE STEWARD – 6
Typically reliable under the high ball until he spilled under no pressure at the start of the second half, but badly sliced a first-half clearance kick. Played his part in a cohesive defensive effort from England’s back three who saw plenty of high balls raining down on them in persistent rain.

14 MAX MALINS – 6.5
Saw plenty of the ball in the early stages as England’s back three sought to counter from deep. A neat inside ball almost created a try-scoring chance before Scotland’s cover defence swarmed across the field.

13 ELLIOT DALY – 6.5
Forced a turnover deep in Scotland territory with a thumping tackle direct from a restart. Had little front-foot ball in space but worked hard defensively.

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12 HENRY SLADE – 7.5
In the absence of Manu Tuilagi the Exeter man wore no.12 and was asked to truck the ball into contact on more than one occasion, winning a penalty under the home posts in the third quarter.

His superb angled diagonal gave England a good attacking position only for his forwards to ship a penalty in the first half then another fine kick – this time off his weaker right foot – gave Stuart Hogg a heart-stopping moment just ahead of the hour mark.

11 JOE MARCHANT – 6
Charged Stuart Hogg down deep in his own 22 following Slade’s superb diagonal and looked perfectly at home playing out of position on England’s left wing despite seeing a lot less of the ball than his back three colleagues.

10 MARCUS SMITH – 7
Tasked with kicking his country’s points Smith started with a scuffed-but-successful penalty which brought a smile to his face and went on to miss only a tricky touchline conversion.

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Showed he can mix his game to good effect but over-cooked a kick pass which would have left Max Malins with the easiest of walk-ins and missed touch with a penalty at a vital moment. Claimed a memorable try in the second half with a well-judged outside break.

9 BEN YOUNGS – 6
A typically sharp break from the base of a breakdown created a good chance which ended when Smith’s kick-pass missed its target.

His box kicking was not quite on point at times which, with England dominating possession, reduced the first half pressure on Scotland’s back three.

Took a good option to go blind and send Smith racing to the line for Engand’s second half try.

1 ELLIS GENGE – 6
A couple of powerful first-half bursts followed neat handling combinations with fellow prop Sinckler. Penalised in contact to present Scotland with a 40-metre opportunity which Finn Russell accepted on the stroke of half-time.

2 LUKE COWAN-DICKIE – 5.5
Kicked possession away in the Scotland 22 following a turnover with plenty of space outside him. Connected consistently with his lineout jumpers on a wet night when accuracy was essential.

Was then at the centre of a match-turning moment when exposed under a cross-field kick pass and yellow carded for deliberately knocking the ball into touch in an incident which also cost England a penalty try.

3 KYLE SINKLER – 7
Prominent with ball in hand in the early stages and showed some deft touches. Disrupted a Scotland maul to win a turnover early in the second half. Not really required to scrummage in a contest which saw only five set-pieces prior to his departure on 63 minutes.

4 MARO ITOJE – 6
Always a threat to Scotland’s lineout ball. Got up quickly in defence to block Finn Russell’s intended kick ahead early in the second half but generally less prominent than usual in the loose.

5 NICK ISIEKWE – 5
Picked off in the defensive line by Darcy Graham for Scotland’s opening try then pinged for going across the lineout.

Otherwise played an important role in England’s lineout which functioned extremely smoothly.

6 LEWIS LUDLAM – 8
Used as England’s third lineout option and secured some useful front ball throughout the game. Also carried to good effect and won a penalty in contact with a powerful early burst.

7 TOM CURRY – 6
England’s first-time skipper delivered a typically industrious display without producing any showreel moments and probably shared the battle of the breakdown with Lions colleague Hamish Watson.

8 SAM SIMMONDS – 7
Carried hard from set plays with Ali Price feeling the full force of one such thrust and being temporarily sidelined for an HIA as a result.

REPLACEMENTS – 5.5
England changed their props, introduced Alex Dombrandt for Lewis Ludlam and perhaps surprisingly swapped George Ford for 17-point Marcus Smith shortly after the hour mark.

By Paul Smith, Rugbypass

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