Rough weather made for a disjointed affair in Edinburgh – not that English fans will care
England hold nerve in sodden Calcutta Cup bout
The squib may have washed away amid the downpour and gusts in Edinburgh, but despite the minging conditions brought on by Storm Ciara, the Calcutta Cup will be sent safe and warm to Twickenham. There was only one try to cheer about in the 13-6 win, with Ellis Genge muscling over. Yet on a day when the weather ruined any chance to build sustained momentum, England held their nerve to come away with the result.
They have their first Six Nations win this term and Scotland have a second losing bonus point in a fortnight.
The Scots have held the trophy for the last two seasons thanks to a swashbuckling spirit and a never-say-die attitude that saw them glide to victory in 2018 and secure the most miraculous of draws last term. They stood their ground when they could here and still swung hard, but this game was played with swamp rules – hoist it high and go for the kill when the opposition made any errors.
And there were plenty of those as the wind swirled and the rain teemed. Aside from the endless stream of kicks, Scotland turned the ball over a staggering 20 times. England lost it seven times. Scotland won 57% of their own lineouts – a sin regardless of the conditions or the increased number o throw-ins (there were 19 for the Scots). Owen Farrell missed three penalties while George Ford at least deserves some praise for having the chutzpah to try an audacious, if ultimately futile, drop-goal attempt.
Scotland captain Stuart Hogg will have another sleepless night thinking about the ball that never sat up for him, that he barely touched down over his own line for a 5m scrum – after the ball squirted out Farrell got a hand on it and thought he got himself a try.
No matter. From the resultant scrum, Ben Youngs fed a charging Farrell and then the pack went to work. Genge picked up and his mates helped power to the vital five-pointer. As the Scottish skipper remarked after the game, he put his team under some pressure. Genge and his cohorts capitalised minutes later.
There were few moments for the Scots to savour. Rory Sutherland’s startling break from halfway, early in the second half, stood out. There were some clattering hits and Hogg also made a nice half break and sent a probing kick deep into touch. It was 3-0 to England at half-time, but after an Adam Hastings penalty it was 3-all with plenty of time left and neither side ran away with things.
It was an unusual game and there were more boots to ball than any union fan would want to watch. Yet, with an astronomical error-count, Scotland came off second best.
The pressure told in the end and England were pragmatic enough to send kick after kick spinning into the night sky. They came out to the good on the penalty count and they deserved their score. Both sides made hard work of it.
We now have a fallow week, with Scotland preparing to face Italy and maybe finally getting a try in this Six Nations tournament. England, maybe, have gotten their chariot out of the mud. It’s Ireland for them next.
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