Scotland 6-13 England: Ellis Genge try helps England to Calcutta Cup win
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 08/02/20 11:17pm
Ellis Genge's converted try 10 minutes from time helped England regain the Calcutta Cup with a hard-fought 13-6 win over Scotland in the Six Nations amid atrocious conditions at Murrayfield.
A low-scoring first 40 minutes ended with the visitors holding a slender 3-0 lead at the break thanks to a penalty from Owen Farrell, who had also missed two other attempts at goal kicking into a fierce wind.
Adam Hastings got Scotland back on level terms from close range six minutes into the second half and then Farrell missed another attempt with the wind at his back, but replacement prop Genge barged his way over for a converted try which all but sealed the win.
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Another Hastings penalty gave Scotland late hope, but Eddie Jones' men held on to claim their first win in this year's tournament.
The visitors were on the back foot straight from the kick-off as Jonny May was unable to take Stuart Hogg's effort cleanly and George Ford was hurried into a clearance which Scotland returned to set up a promising spell of possession in a good position early on.
But despite the Scots working the ball through 14 phases, England's defence held firm and some strong foraging at the breakdown from Maro Itoje won an important turnover to relieve that pressure.
England's defence would go on to play a vital role in the first 40 minutes to quell a Scotland side full of attacking intent, while the away side's kicking game helped them edge the battle for territory despite playing into the howling wind.
Goal-kicking remained tough though and Farrell missed a ninth-minute attempt at goal after Scott Cummings had been penalised at the breakdown, but the England skipper booted his side ahead from 40 metres out two minutes later after the Scotland lock was caught offside.
Farrell then missed another shot at goal from a penalty, this time from a relatively kickable distance inside Scotland's 22, on the 27th minute and fly-half Ford saw a drop goal attempt go wide just before referee Pascal Gauzere signalled for the break.
The hosts could hardly have asked for a better start to the second half, with a rampaging run from Rory Sutherland following a knock-on by Ford from a swirling high kick setting up a long spell of possession close to England's line which ended with Hastings knocking over a 46th-minute penalty.
Scotland seemed to be in the ascendancy after this, with England struggling to master the conditions with the wind behind them as Ford, Willi Heinz and Elliot Daly were all guilty of conceded territory by booting the ball directly into touch.
It was England's pack which started to spearhead a revival, however, with some strong work at the scrum as head coach Jones utilised the forward strength on the bench - but even when they earned some good field position the usually reliable Farrell missed a 65th-minute shot at goal.
But five minutes later, a chip-kick from Ford led to full-back Hogg conceding a five-metre scrum and from the set-piece, England went left and Leicester Tigers front row Genge was able to pick from the base of a ruck and barge his way over for a try converted by Farrell.
The Saracens back added a penalty inside the final five minutes and although Hastings kept Scotland's slim chances of being able to snatch a draw alive with a 78th-minute penalty, England were able to close the game out and reclaim the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 2017.
England's defence was much improved from the nightmare first half in Paris on the opening weekend of this year's Six Nations and they set the tone early on after Scotland had gained a foothold in a good position following Hogg's kick-off which caused problems.
It came to the fore again in the first 20 minutes of the second half when Scotland were winning the territorial battle and enjoying the better of the attacking possession, proving particularly vital on a day when the conventional wisdom of it being better to kick with the wind at your back did not apply.
Then when it came to the crunch, England's forwards stepped up to the mark and Jones' decision to go with a 6-2 split of forwards and backs respectively on the replacements bench proved the right one.
Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler put in huge 80-minute shifts in the front row, and Genge came on to build on the groundwork the pack had laid, using his power and strength - aided by Maro Itoje - to grab the crucial score for the visitors.
A special mention too goes to Tom Curry, with the flanker showing signs of becoming more familiar with the demands of playing in the No. 8 position.
Scotland's line-out problems, which were evident in the defeat away to Ireland in the opening round of matches, reared their head again at Murrayfield.
They did have the mitigating factor of the appalling conditions and high wind making throwing difficult, and it should not be overlooked that England's George made a couple of mistakes when his side had line-outs too.
But the fact Scotland lost seven line-outs will be of concern to head coach Gregor Townsend and heap more pressure on hooker Fraser Brown - although his replacement Stuart McInally made an error with the throw as well.
The Scots now have two weeks to address those issues before heading to face Italy, where they will be expected to get their Six Nations campaign back on track with a win.
Stats of the game
47 - @EnglandRugby made 47 kicks from hand against Scotland, their joint most in a Six Nations game (also 47 v France in 2019) and the joint third most by any side in a match in the Championship (Ireland 54 v France in 2003, Italy 53 v Wales in 2009). Tactical. pic.twitter.com/XarH9w2w4C— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 8, 2020
Tweets of the day
Hard to pick a #TopMoment for this game, think what was remarkable what the 80min effort made by @EnglandRugby to secure this narrow victory. Special mention to the back row, @SGUnderhill and @TomCurry98, incredible work rate #SCOvENG #GuinnessSixNations @TISSOT— Serge Betsen (@SBetsen) February 8, 2020
Well the weather truly spoiled the #CalcuttaCup Too many mistakes from both teams but ultimately @EnglandRugby put enough pressure on @Scotlandteam to win the game. Move on & don’t read too much into this performance but Scotland had chances #AsOne— Scott Hastings (@ScottHastings13) February 8, 2020