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Six Nations 2023: Duhan van der Merwe double for Scotland denies Steve Borthwick winning start as England head coach

Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe scores either side of half-time as Scotland secure victory over England for the third year running; Max Malins' first two tries in an England shirt not enough to prevent new head coach Steve Borthwick suffering a defeat in his first game in charge

Scotland players celebrate with the Calcutta cup after defeating England 29-23 during the Six Nations rugby union international match at Twickenham in London, England, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Image: Scotland's players celebrate with the Calcutta Cup

Duhan van der Merwe's double saw Scotland make it three Calcutta Cup wins in a row for the first time since 1972 as they beat England 29-23 in the teams' Six Nations encounter at Twickenham.

Huw Jones' converted score against the run of play and van der Merwe rampaging through the defence from inside his own half had given Scotland the lead either side of Max Malins' first international try, but the Saracens winger's second and clubmate Owen Farrell's penalty saw England edge ahead 13-12 at the break.

Ellis Genge's try and the conversion from Farrell soon after the restart saw them capitalise on a strong start to the second half, only for Ben White's converted score to keep the Scots side clinging onto their hosts' coat-tails.

Farrell and Russell then exchanged penalties to ensure a tense conclusion to the contest, with flying winger Van der Merwe surging over again with five minutes remaining to deny new England head coach Steve Borthwick a victory in his first game in charge.

Story of the game

Seeking to wrest back the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 2020, England made a promising start on the back of some intelligent kicking into space and pressure from the chase to keep Scotland pinned in their own half for much of the opening quarter of an hour.

Yet it was the visitors who took the lead in the 15th minute. Having made their first entry of the match into England's 22 on the back of a well-worked lineout move from George Turner's long throw, Scotland patiently built until Sione Tuipulotu slotted through a grubber for centre partner Jones to chase down and finish.

A piece of good fortune as he stabbed ahead a high kick, and some football skills before recovering the ball saw Malins - on his first England appearance since last year's Six Nations - start the spell of possession for England in Scotland's 22 which he would eventually finish in the 24th minute.

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Huw Jones celebrates after scoring Scotland's opening try at Twickenham
Image: Huw Jones celebrates after scoring Scotland's opening try at Twickenham

Team news

New England head coach Steve Borthwick handed Ollie Hassell-Collins his Test debut on the wing, with Ben Curry winning his second cap in place of injured brother Tom in the back row. Joe Marchant made his first start since last July at outside centre, and prop Dan Cole was included on the bench for his first appearance since England’s 2019 World Cup final defeat along with uncapped hooker Jack Walker.

Back row Jamie Ritchie captained Scotland as they took aim at their third-straight Calcutta Cup triumph, with Luke Crosbie making only his second start for Gregor Townsend’s team after being named on the other flank. Ben White got the nod at scrum-half alongside No 10 Finn Russell, with George Horne on the bench after Ali Price was left out of the squad.

Having kicked to touch from a penalty for a five-metre lineout, the home side built pressure with Jack van Poortvliet keeping the defence guessing by changing the point of attack at the ruck. Half-back partner Marcus Smith sent a pinpoint kick to the right corner, and Malins dived on the ball to score.

Farrell was unable to convert, though, and Scotland were in again five minutes later as winger Van der Merwe, all pace and power allied with exceptional vision, took the ball in his own half and banished no fewer than six England defenders to the land of wind and ghosts as he raced away for a spectacular solo try.

However, Russell, who had added the extras from first score, struck the post with his conversion attempt, and England hit back three minutes before half-time.

Attacking in Scotland's 22 again, they worked numbers on the right and this time Freddie Steward released Lewis Ludlam, who drew in last defender Stuart Hogg and fed Malins to go over for his second.

England's..Max Malins, left, celebrates after scoring his team's second try during the Six Nations rugby union international match between England and Scotland at Twickenham in London, England, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Image: Max Malins scored his first two tries in an England shirt

England 23-29 Scotland score summary

England: Tries - Max Malins (2), Ellis Genge; Conversion - Owen Farrell; Penalties – Owen Farrell (2).

Scotland: Tries - Duhan van der Merwe (2), Huw Jones, Ben White; Conversion - Finn Russell (3); Penalty - Finn Russell.

Again, Farrell missed the conversion, but the captain made no mistake with a penalty on the final play of the first half to give England a one-point lead and, no doubt with some stern words from Borthwick ringing in their ears, they surged further ahead in the 48th minute.

Setting up camp on Scotland's line following a kick to touch, England worked the ball through the phases before scrum-half Van Poortvliet sent front-row Genge crashing over from close range, with Farrell converting.

However, Scotland were back to within a point three minutes later after England ceded good field position by knocking on from the restart, with scrum-half White breaking from a ruck and darting through a gap to finish, Russell slotting over the extras.

Farrell's 64th-minute penalty gave England a bit of breathing space, but Scotland fly-half Russell trimmed the deficit again with one of his own with 13 minutes remaining, and the Scots retook the lead in the 75th minute when the ball was worked wide for Van der Merwe to burst through and finish, securing the bonus point in the process.

England v Scotland - Guinness Six Nations - Twickenham Stadium
Scotland's Duhan van der Merwe beats England's Oliver Chessum on the way to scoring their side's second try during the Guinness Six Nations match at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday February 4, 2023.
Image: Duhan van der Merwe ran in two tries for Scotland against England

Russell converted again to leave England needing a converted try to win. They got an opportunity in the dying minutes after kicking to touch inside the 22 from a penalty, but Scotland halted the lineout drive and won the turnover, leading to wild celebrations from the visitors.

What they said

England captain Owen Farrell, speaking to ITV...

"I think we started 11 days ago and there has been massive improvement, it feels like, over those 11 days - and we were trying to get that onto the field today.

"I thought we did it in large parts. There's some stuff we need to look at and obviously we need to get better at, but we can look at that tomorrow and the day after.

"We'd like to credit the Scotland team on their performance and sticking in it to the end like they did. We'll make sure we get better from here."

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Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend says he felt emotional at the final whistle as his side sealed another Calcutta Cup victory at Twickenham

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, speaking to ITV...

"That's some result for us! To do it in the last five, 10 minutes was the most emotional game in the coaching box!

"I don't think the players get as emotional as we do when you hang onto win and score a really good try to go ahead. It was much better second half from us and a brilliant win."

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England head coach Steve Borthwick says the pain of losing to Scotland at Twickenham will ultimately help the growth of the side

Stats of the match

What's next?

England are back at Twickenham on Sunday, February 12 when they face perennial strugglers Italy (3pm). Scotland play their first home match of this year's Six Nations the day before when they welcome Wales to Murrayfield (4.45pm).

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