The home team dug deep and pulled out the performance of the season to see off the second best side in the world in the biggest upset of the 2018 tournament thus far. This was the first victory over England in a decade and only the second ever defeat on Eddie Jones’ watch.
The Scots scored three tries in the first half and three points after the break as England inevitably rallied. They rode their luck in the third quarter when the visitors scored one, and had two more tries wiped off, but the Scots kept their heads to finish deserved winners by a margin that might have surprised even themselves.
There were any number of heroes but Huw Jones continued his astonishing try-scoring feats, grabbing two touchdowns and contributing manfully to Scotland’s third. The Scottish centre now has ten tries in 14 Tests.
Flankers John Barclay and Hamish Watson bossed the breakdown, earning ten turnovers to England’s four, and after a mixed start to the tournament Finn Russell was the stand out stand-off on the field with Owen Farrell present, the oil that made the Scottish engine purr and man of the match.
Russell ran, kicked and defended with all the enthusiasm and precision of old; felling the giant Nathan Hughes in one text book tackle.
Vitally, it was his vision and accuracy that started and finished the best score of the day, a length-of-the-field-play that ended with Sean Maitland diving over in the left-hand corner.
Russell started the move with a risky looping pass that fell perfectly for Jones on the Scottish 22. The centre pinned back his ears and only some good work by Jonny May prevented a try inside the English red zone. The ball was recycled, Stuart McInally furthered the move before Russell sent another looping pass, this one to the unmarked Maitland for the score.
That try arrived just after the half hour mark and was bookended by two solo scores from Jones. The second came just before the break, Greig Laidlaw’s pass put the classy centre through a huge hole in the England line and still Jones had 40 yards to go, the last five with Anthony Watson and Mike Brown hanging on for all they were worth.
His first touchdown had arrived after just 15 minutes and gave every Scot in the stadium a much-needed dose of self belief. Scotland got the nudge on an attacking lineout, England edged offside and with a penalty advantage coming their way, Russell dropped the ball in behind the defensive line. Jones made to pick it up but instead kicked it through and the ball sat up beautifully for the Scotland centre to dive over the line.
BT Murrayfield erupted into life with the crowd, perhaps for the first time, suspecting that something special was on the cards. Having failed to score a try against England at Murrayfield since 2004, this Scottish team had three inside 40 minutes. The change since that Cardiff catastrophe this month has been remarkable.
The Scots took a 22-6 lead into the break and, if it was possible, the third quarter was played with increased intensity. England scored one try from Farrell, after a poor kick from Stuart Hogg gave them high field position, but the visitors also had two wiped off by referee Nigel Owens who probably gave most of the 50-50 calls to the home side. Danny Care intercepted only for Owens to award the Scots a prior breakdown penalty and Farrell thought he had another only for the TMO to confirm that Courtney Lawes had knocked the ball forward in a tackle.
England weren’t the only ones feeling frustrated because Scotland butchered a four-on-one when Peter Horne delayed his pass to Hamish Watson by a split second which proved plenty enough to ruin a sure thing with Jones and Maitland waiting outside the little flanker.
The usual slew of substitutes arrived around the hour mark but the Scots held a 22-13 advantage as the clock ran into the final quarter; the match still in the balance.
At which point England’s discipline disappeared. Lawes kicked the ball out of Laidlaw’s grasp and just minutes later replacement Sam Underhill walloped Jamie Bhatti with his shoulder to earn a yellow card.
Russell scored Scotland’s only points of the second half off the tee before the Scots withstood a spirited England rearguard action, McInally winning the crucial turnover in the shadow of his own posts to spark wild celebrations.