Sports Monks

England 6-11 Scotland: Finn Russell orchestrates first Scottish win at Twickenham since 1983

Defending champions England clawed back six points and Russell’s charge was briefly halted by a yellow card.

But a resilient Scotland were undeterred and added another penalty.

England had been favourites to win the tournament but, with France having opened their Six Nations with a 50-10 defeat of Italy, their chances suddenly seem much slimmer.

Scotland, on the other hand, look likely to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish with Wales their opponents at Murrayfield next weekend.

That is one of three home games for the Scots in the 2021 Six Nations, with round three’s trip to Paris now looking decisive for their title hopes.

There was no shortage of history surrounding the Calcutta Cup match. It marked the 150th anniversary of the first time England and Scotland played each other and the fact Scotland were without a win at Twickenham in 38 years was a key talking point in the build-up.

All the players had been confined to coronavirus bubbles in the week before the tournament, with England only allowed to socialise outside or otherwise stay alone in their rooms.

The joy of breaking free of their confines combined with the sense of occasion meant both sides sprung out onto the Twickenham pitch, but it was Scotland who looked keenest, determined to throw off the shackles of such a long winless run south of the border.

England, who fielded a relatively inexperienced front row with three experienced props absent, proceeded to concede four penalties in the first five minutes.

The fourth gave Russell – who was returning to international duty after a shoulder injury – the chance to put Scotland ahead.

England’s lack of attacking prowess drew criticism in their victorious Autumn Nations Cup campaign and they had promised better in 2021, but it was the visitors who shone in that area as debutant Cameron Redpath made repeated breaks.

For the hosts, the misdemeanours continued. On the eighth penalty conceded, referee Brace had had enough and sent number eight Billy Vunipola to the sin-bin after catching him offside.

As England’s penalty count entered double digits, the visitors got their just reward.

It started with Russell and travelled through a who’s who of Scotland’s backline, the excellent Stuart Hogg, Redpath and hooker George Turner combining to feed Van der Merwe, who stepped inside and powered over near the left corner.

The celebrations were briefly halted as Scotland gave away a penalty and England captain Owen Farrell sent the ball over from just inside his own half.

As Farrell lined up a second penalty, he suggested the television match official reviewed a trip by Russell on England scrum-half Ben Youngs – leading to a yellow card for the talismanic 10.

After Russell had left the field, Farrell scored his penalty and cut Scotland’s lead to two.

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