Scotland 6-13 England: Calcutta Cup lost as Ellis Genge try settles storm-ruined battle of attrition at BT Murrayfield

When it rains, it pours. Scotland captain Stuart Hogg allowed another ball to slip from his grasp, this time at the other end, but got away with it for a few seconds before England struck the killer blow in the next passage of play to edge a storm-wrecked Calcutta Cup clash.
England players celebrate Ellis Genge's late winning try at a windswept and rain-soaked BT Murrayfield. Picture: SRU/SNSEngland players celebrate Ellis Genge's late winning try at a windswept and rain-soaked BT Murrayfield. Picture: SRU/SNS
England players celebrate Ellis Genge's late winning try at a windswept and rain-soaked BT Murrayfield. Picture: SRU/SNS

A low-scoring match played in truly appalling weather conditions ended with England getting their hands back on the famous old trophy after two years.

The crucial moment came with 11 minutes remaining with the scores locked at 3-3 following a brutal slog against the elements. Hogg scrambled to cover George Ford’s kick through and for a horrible moment it looked as though he had fumbled it to allow England skipper Owen Farrell to dot down. In the end it was adjudged that Hogg had got just enough downward pressure carrying over the line.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The reprieve was short-lived as the five-metre scrum was turned into five points and then seven as sub Ellis Genge barrelled over to settle the match.

The conditions were, to say the least, a bit blowy even by Murrayfield standards and if not at cyclone or typhoon levels it was challenging enough when Scotland kicked off attacking the North Stand end.

There was an immediate statement of intent as Sam Johnson put in a hefty and perfectly timed hit in on English receiver Jonny May.

Scotland enjoyed a couple of minutes of possession but good work from Maro Itoje picked Scotland scrum-half Ali Price’s pocket and a penalty relieved the pressure for England.

The strength of the wind was in evidence when and English up-and-under almost blew back over the kicker’s head but skipper Farrell went for less altitude with the next one and it paid dividends as the Scots were pinned back in the corner.

The lineout was won but English pressure continued after Hogg spilled a high ball forward and the end result was a penalty, with the wind coming to Scotland’s rescue as Farrell’s attempt drifted across the posts.

His next chance in the 12th minute was more central and he firmly bisected the posts to open the scoring.

As the swirling rain became noticeably heavier the attrition deepened. Both sides were mixing things up, alternating between gambles with the aerial lottery while striving to keep ball in hand when opportunity arose.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Blair Kinghorn had a dart but England produced a class turnover and it was the visitors who made the next clean break down the left before sweeping right and forcing a penalty.

What would normally be a meat and drink chance for Farrell, just over 22 metres out and right of centre was cursed by Mother Nature as it was caught and taken past the left-hand post to the delight of the home crowd.

A second quarter as grim as the conditions was epitomised when Hogg missed a touch he would normally have made in his sleep from a penalty that on most days would have led to an automatic shot at the posts.

Hastings was the next to suffer as his clearance from just outside his own 22 did find a touch he didn’t want and England were pressing again two minutes before the break but the Scots held firm and both sides were no doubt happy to head to the warmth of the changing rooms.

A Ford fumble set the tone for the start of the second period as first Rory Sutherland and then Huw Jones made inroads on the English defence. A Scottish encampment ended with a penalty award which, even on an evening like this, was too good to turn down and Hastings did the necessary to level the scores.

Scrappy was quickly descending into farce as any ball given a bit of air, be it from boot, lineout throw or any pass beyond a couple of arms lengths was liable to end up anywhere.

But Scotland established a bit of control and built some phases until they were stripped, illegally arguably by Kyle Sinckler.

Then followed what might well be a Six Nations record for most consecutive kicks out on the full as every ball that left an English boot was swept over the touchline.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The flipside was that having your own throw at a lineout was not much of an advantage and Scotland lost another as the clock ticked past the hour mark and both coaches began to go to their benches.

The evening was summed up when Farrell, with sub Genge holding the ball in place on the tee, screwed a penalty wide to the left in the 66th minute.

Then came Hogg’s heart in mouth moment, which was given only a momentary reprieve as England launched from the scrum five and Genge was driven over, Farrell converting.

When sub prop Simon Berghan gave away a penalty with five minutes to go Farrell made no mistake to push the game out of Scotland’s reach.

Hastings nicked three points back but it was too little too late.

SCORERS: SCOTLAND: Pens: Hastings 2

ENGLAND: Try: Genge; Con: Farrell; Pens: Farrell 2

SCOTLAND: S Hogg; S Maitland, H Jones, S Johnson, B Kinghorn; A Hastings, A Price; R Sutherland, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, J Ritchie, H Watson, M Bradbury. Subs: S McInally for Brown 52, A Dell for Sutherland 60, S Berghan for Fagerson 61, B Toolis for Cummings 56, N Haining for Bradbury 75, C Harris for Jones 56. Not used: G Horne, R Hutchinson.

ENGLAND: G Furbank, J May, J Joseph, O Farrell, E Daly; G Ford, W Heinz; M Vunipola, J George, K Sinckler, M Itoje, G Kruis, L Ludlam, S Underhill, T Curry. Subs: T Dunn, E Genge for M Vunipola 56, J Launchbury for Kruis 71, C Lawes for Ludlum 52, B Earl for Underhill 65, B Youngs for Heinz 59, Not used: O Devoto, W Stuart.

REFEREE: Pascal Gauzere (France)