We've delved into the numbers behind Van der Merwe's dazzling display against England

Duhan van der Merwe rightly took the plaudits for his Player of the Match display as his hat-trick helped Scotland to a 30-21 victory over England at Murrayfield in the Six Nations.

It was the fourth time in a row the Scots have claimed the Calcutta Cup, the first time that has happened for 128 years, and it kept alive their slim hopes of a first Six Nations crown.

Read more: How to watch the Six Nations

But the scenes of jubilation at full-time in Edinburgh appeared unlikely 19 minutes in when Steve Borthwick’s side led 10-0. Enter van der Merwe.

The South Africa-born winger was on hand to receive and finish Huw Jones’ offload from the deck in the 20th minute and ignite the home crowd before an incredible solo effort less than 10 minutes later gave Scotland a lead they would never relinquish.

He capped off a game to remember with a try in the second half to become the first Scotland player to cross the whitewash three times in this fixture. But if you delve a little deeper, it was all made possible by the brilliance of Finn Russell.

The talismanic fly-half was well prepared for England’s blitz defence and feathered a pinpoint kick that meant van der Merwe didn’t have to break stride as he gathered the ball and touched down for his hat-trick.

And Sage have compiled the stats behind Russell’s exquisite cross-field assist. Russell is renowned as one of the sport’s great entertainers but there is also plenty of method behind his madness.

Exploiting the hole in behind the England defence with the boot resulted in an immediate 15.9 metre territory gain, leaving much less work for van der Merwe to do.

It also got to its desired target faster. Russell’s average pass speed for the tournament is 31.2kph whereas the chip over the top travelled at 45kph.

As for the bounce, perhaps that can be explained by the end-over-end efficiency, which was measured at 93 per cent.

The total distance the ball travelled was 33.3 metres, while the hang time was 2.6 seconds, although it may have felt a lot longer for those watching with a vested interest.

The end result was a brilliantly taken try that came after a scrappy passage of play, just further highlighting how Russell’s ability to make quick decisions under pressure and execute can win Test matches.

Such a score would normally be in the running for try of the tournament, but it might not have even been the best of this particular match.

Related: Van der Merwe hat-trick rockets him to top of Six Nations try-scorer charts

That distinction is likely to be given for van der Merwe’s second. After his solo effort stunned Twickenham in 2023, 12 months on he produced another moment of magic to deal England a crushing blow.

Amazingly, according to Sage, his charge down the touchline on Saturday as he rounded Ben Earl, skipped past Henry Slade and out-paced George Furbank, was from 62.5 metres.

That’s five metres further than his score last year, while he also got over the line from 46.5 metres against Wales in the first round of fixtures. With numbers like these, it’s little wonder he is regarded as one of the best finishers in the game.

For more information visit sage.com/rugby.

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