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March 31, 2020
Rugby Union Sport

Superb Scotland stun England to end grand slam aspirations

Rugby Union – Six Nations Championship – Scotland vs England – BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Britain – February 24, 2018 Scotland’s John Barclay holds the Calcutta Cup trophy as his team mates celebrate after victory over England Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

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EDINBURGH (Reuters) – Scotland produced a blistering display of attacking rugby to hand Eddie Jones just his second defeat as England head coach and end the visitors’ grand slam aspirations with a 25-13 Six Nations victory at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Led by the brilliance of Huw Jones, who scored a brace of tries, and Finn Russell — criticised before the game but at the heart of Scotland’s best play — the hosts opened up a 16-point halftime lead, with Sean Maitland also touching down.

England improved after the break with a converted Owen Farrell try, but Sam Underhill was shown a yellow card to inhibit hopes of a comeback as the hosts held out for a famous victory in Gregor Townsend’s first Calcutta Cup fixture as head coach.

“It’s a great feeling. We knew how important this week was going to be, what it meant to our supporters and the players played with real pride,” Townsend said.

“There was also real intensity, and great accuracy – especially in the first half. We forced mistakes. We discussed opportunities we felt we could create and it was pleasing the way we took them.”

Following a pre-game scuffle in the tunnel, the opening exchanges were full-blooded but dominated by Scotland who showed plenty of attacking intent which yielded a penalty, kicked by Greig Laidlaw for a 3-0 lead.

Rugby Union – Six Nations Championship – Scotland vs England – BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Britain – February 24, 2018 England’s Anthony Watson in action with Scotland’s Peter Horne REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Buoyed by a vociferous crowd the hosts consistently stretched the visitors’ defence and Jones collected a deft Russell grubber kick to dive over next to the posts to score Scotland’s first home try against England since 2004.

Farrell kept the visitors in touch with two penalties, but their attack was lethargic and in defence they simply could not contain Scotland with Russell and Jones combining to create the field position for Maitland to dive over in the corner.

At 15-6 down, a series of attacking penalties hampered England and their indiscipline was compounded shortly before halftime when Jones burst through and held off Mike Brown and Anthony Watson to score.

FAILED FIGHTBACK

England’s response after the break was emphatic with Farrell cutting a superb line through the Scottish defence to reduce the deficit to nine points in the 44th minute.

Farrell had a second try ruled out following a knock on in the build-up but any hopes of closing the gap further were dealt a major blow when Underhill was shown yellow for a dangerous tackle in the 66th minute.

Russell’s resulting penalty gave Scotland a 12-point lead which they defended superbly to thwart England’s attacking raids and seal a stunning victory that keeps alive their hopes of winning their first Six Nations title since the tournament expanded.

Jones, who had previously compared Scotland’s playing style to that of the All Blacks, was humble in defeat and congratulated the hosts on their win.

“They were too good for us. Unfortunately we were not in the game in the first 40. Scotland played well. Full marks to Scotland,” he told ITV.

“We knew what we were going to get but we didn’t meet the challenge today for some reason. Second half I was very proud of the effort of the boys. We really stuck in there and won the second half.”

(Reporting by Tom Hayward; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis)
Copyright 2018 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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