|Six Nations: England v Scotland|
|England (31) 38|
|Tries: Nowell, Curry, Launchbury, May, Ford Cons: Farrell 4 Ford Pen: Farrell|
|Scotland (7) 38|
|Tries: McInally, Graham 2, Bradbury, Russell, Johnson Cons: Russell 2, Laidlaw 2|
England and Scotland fought out an astonishing draw in the most dramatic match in their 148-year rivalry.
England, whose title hopes were ended by Wales’ win over Ireland, raced into a 31-point lead in as many minutes.
But Stuart McInally broke clear before Darcy Graham (twice), Magnus Bradbury and Finn Russell crossed in a second-half blitz that made it 31-31.
Sam Johnson scored a seemingly decisive try late on, only for England’s George Ford to go in for the game’s 11th try.
Despite the extraordinary drama, both sides looked deflated on the final whistle.
Despite retaining the Calcutta Cup, Scotland had to come to terms with being denied the greatest comeback in top-level international history – and an end to a 36-year Twickenham hoodoo – in the final play of the game.
England, with coach Eddie Jones looking on furiously from above, had saved themselves from an embarrassing defeat, but will face a brutal inquest into their second-half display and further questions over their concentration and consistency in big matches, less than six months before the World Cup.
England run rampant
A first try after 66 seconds. A bonus point inside 29 minutes. England’s biggest half-time lead ever against Scotland.
In the first 40 minutes, there was a chasm-like disparity between the international game’s oldest adversaries.
Wing Jack Nowell started England’s onslaught as he stepped inside the cover to score in the second minute.
A clever short line-out was then driven over for Tom Curry’s score and Ellis Genge, on for the injured Ben Moon in the fourth minute, sprung fellow prop Kyle Sinckler through a gap in the build-up to Joe Launchbury diving in.
When Henry Slade flicked a pass out the back of his hand for Jonny May to stroll in, it felt like there was an element of showboating in England’s performance.
Jones had said before the match that it was a chance to “show that we’re the best team in the Six Nations” and with nine tries more than anyone else in the championship at that point, it seemed his side were making the statement he wanted as they took a 31-0 lead.
Scotland surge back
What followed was six unanswered Scotland tries that shocked an unsuspecting Twickenham.
Flanker-turned-hooker Stuart McInally’s charge-down and charge home from 55 metres out gave the visitors something before the break.
At that stage, it had seemed little more than a consolation.
But, in the second half, Scotland made light of the weight of history and an injury-ravaged squad as their backline suddenly realised their potential for dazzling, defence-shredding play.
In the space of 13 surreal minutes, Graham jinked over following quicksilver interplay, Ali Price’s chip paved the way for Bradbury’s score, a looping miss-pass from Russell sprang Graham and finally Russell snaffled an interception from opposite number Farrell to level the scores.
A reeling England seemed to regain their balance only for Johnson to barrel over in the 76th minute. On the brink of a victory for the ages and with the clock in the red though, they could not hold out.
It was a performance that showed the best and worst of Gregor Townsend’s side with their lack of forward heft and basic errors perfectly counter-balanced by their flashes of attacking brilliance.
England: Daly, Nowell, Ashton, Tuilagi, May, Farrell, Youngs, Moon, George, Sinckler, Launchbury, Kruis, Wilson, Curry, B. Vunipola.
Replacements: Genge for Moon (4), Te’o for Tuilagi (77), Ford for Farrell (70), Spencer for Youngs (74), Cowan-Dickie for George (74), Cole for Sinckler (51), Hughes for Launchbury (74), Shields for Wilson (62).
Scotland: Maitland, D. Graham, Grigg, Johnson, McGuigan, Russell, Price, Dell, McInally, Nel, Toolis, Gilchrist, Skinner, Watson, Bradbury.
Replacements: Hastings for Maitland (68), Harris for Grigg (57), Laidlaw for Price (57), Reid for Dell (45), Brown for McInally (57), Berghan for Nel (61), Gray for Gilchrist (57), Strauss for Skinner (57).