Scotland triumph over England in Calcutta Cup nail biter as Six Nations campaign begins with Murrayfield glory

Scotland’s Six Nations campaign is off to a flyer after Gregor Townsend’s side put England to the sword with an unforgettable 20-17 Calcutta Cup win.

The Dark Blues led at the interval thanks to a try from Ben White and the boot of Finn Russsell only to fight back from falling behind thanks to a penalty try and a Russell penalty which put the seal on a frantic afternoon of Murrayfield glory.

That territorial dominance against a stout Scottish defense was the story of an opening 10 minutes which had neither team managing to put any points on the board.

Scotland survived another scare in the 12th minute as Freddie Steward was bundled into touch a few yards out as England continued to carry the greater threat.

That was followed by the temporary loss of scrum-half Ali Price to head injury assessment as the inexperienced Ben Smith arrived on the scene with 15 minutes on the clock for his first cap.

First blood was drawn by the visitors as the boot of Marcus Smith with a penalty but moments later Scotland surged back with a try from White which had Murrayfield in raptures as debutant Smith finished off a flowing move.

Stuart Hogg fed Darcy Graham who handed off to the new boy who accelerated over for the score and Finn Russell converted to send the dark blues into a 7-3 lead.

Smith’s reward was an almost immediate return to the bench as the try-hero made way for Price who passed the HIA and returned to the fray.

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Scotland continued to be asked most of the questions as their tackle count grew in their bid to repel the pressure which was becoming increasingly intense.

Another Smith penalty five minutes from the interval squeezed the score to just one point but Russell returned the favor with a superb three-points of his own from half-way to give Scotland a 10-6 lead at the break.

Getting a greater share of the ball was the aim for Townsend’s side after the restart but England again were again playing the majority of the game in Scotland’s half and Smith’s 49th minute penalty again narrowed the lead from in front of the posts after a period of sustained pressure.

Scotland continued to buckle and Smith burst through a gap on the left to dive over for a try which sent England into a 14-10 lead after the fly-half failed to add the extras.

Smith’s 63rd minute penalty extended England’s winning margin and it was all starting to look ominous for the hosts in front of an increasingly subdued Murrayfield crowd.

That was all to change in the 66th minute as a rare Scottish attack had them level thanks to a penalty try as Graham was beaten to a high ball by Luke Cowan-Dickie a few meters with an intentional knock-on which also earned him a yellow card.

With a man advantage, Scotland were resurgent and Russell’s penalty eight minutes from time had them ahead once more to complete a remarkable turn in events.

It was all hands to the pump as the hosts hung on to secure a result and retain the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 1984 – which is a statement for the ambitions in the weeks ahead.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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