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Six Nations 2020: Scotland 6-13 England

Ellis Genge scored the only try of a scrappy battle in horrendous conditions as England regained the Calcutta Cup with a 13-6 defeat of Scotland at a sodden Murrayfield.

There was little to separate the fierce rivals on a bleak Saturday in Edinburgh, lashed by Storm Ciara, after Adam Hastings’ penalty brought Scotland level following Owen Farrell’s strike from the tee in the first half.

That was until replacement prop Genge touched down 10 minutes from time after England were awarded a scrum five yards from the post when Stuart Hogg was adjudged to have made downward pressure on the ball, having spilled it over his own line.

Farrell missed three penalties, with the rain teeming down and wind howling, but was successful with a second to increase his side’s lead after adding the extras to Genge’s try.

A second Hastings penalty reduced the deficit to seven points, but the Rugby World Cup runners-up held on to beat their old rivals the first time in three years.

England deserved to win an ugly contest after losing to France on the opening weekend of the Six Nations, while Scotland have lost two out of two – Hogg’s mistake proving to be pivotal after the captain inexplicably dropped the ball when he should have scored against Ireland.

Lewis Ludlam stated this week that England were ready to go to “war” and they started strongly.

Farrell put them in front after 11 minutes, the skipper’s first penalty having sailed wide of the far post with the wind howling.

The England pack, boosted by the return of Mako Vunipola and with Tom Curry looking more at home at number eight, were winning the battle in a gruelling stop-start contest.

Farrell dragged another shot at goal off target and George Ford missed a drop-goal attempt late in a scrappy first half.

Scotland were transformed following the interval, applying huge pressure after a break from Rory Sutherland before Hastings levelled.

The momentum was with Gregor Townsend’s side, roared on by a partisan crowd, and Ford was fortunate to get away with a poor pass deep in his own half before Hogg put England on the back foot with a brilliant run and kick.

England were not doing themselves any favours, kicking to touch on the full time and again, while Farrell was unable to bisect the posts 15 minutes from time.

The Saracens star thought he had scored the opening try when he touched down after Hogg dithered and saw the ball slip free and although the score was not awarded.

Genge powered his way over soon after the resulting scrum in front of the posts.

A pair of belated Farrell successes gave England breathing space and Hastings’ second penalty was in vain as Eddie Jones’ men just about did enough to win an error-strewn contest six days after going down in Paris.

Heavy artillery fires for England

Jones vowed England would take Scotland on up front with “heavy artillery” after losing a battle with Les Bleus.

They were certainly up for the scrap after letting a commanding lead slip last March to draw a thriller 38-38 in this fixture.

The head coach’s decision to keep Curry at the unfamiliar position of number eight had been questioned again this week, but he was among the standout performers, winning all 12 tackles and gaining 70 metres during an all-action display.

Harsh on Hogg

Hogg was left red-faced in Dublin when he spilled the ball as he was about to score unchallenged in his first match as captain.

Wasteful Scotland could have gone on to claim a shock win at the Aviva Stadium but for that error and a mistake that led to England’s try left him holding his head again.

It was harsh on full-back Hogg, who showed flashes of class and is clearly relishing the responsibility of leading his country.

Key Opta facts
– England have lost just one of the previous 12 Calcutta Cup clashes, winning nine and drawing two.
– The three points scored in the first half was the joint-lowest total in the opening half of a Six Nations match – with England also leading Ireland 3-0 in 2014 and Ireland up by a solitary penalty versus Scotland seven years ago.
– Scotland have failed to score a try in each of their past two Six Nations matches, the first time they have not crossed in back-to-back games since their opening two rounds of the 2014 championship.

What’s next?

England face a monumental encounter with Ireland, who have two wins out of two, at Twickenham on February 23 after a rest weekend. Scotland have a fortnight to lick their wounds before travelling to Rome to take on Italy.

KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta

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