England battle to 13-6 victory in Scottish storm

Monday, 10 February 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

EDINBURGH (Reuters): Prop Ellis Genge drove through for the only try of the game as England eventually found a way past Scotland in an error-strewn Six Nations clash played in foul Edinburgh conditions as a 13-6 triumph regained the Calcutta Cup on Saturday.

The teams were locked at 3-3 with 10 minutes remaining of a chaotic match when Genge was shoved over by his team mates following a good scrum to give England a much-needed victory after last week’s opening defeat in France.

It was just about the only memorable moment of a game where the conditions made handling and kicking a huge challenge but England will not care about that, having drawn with the Scots at Twickenham last year and lost on their last visit to Murrayfield in 2018.

“We are happy with the performance,” said their captain Owen Farrell. “To come up here with the conditions and the atmosphere, we knew it would be tough. The wind was unpredictable and it made the ball go out on the full a few times but the most pleasing thing was our attitude. We grew as the game went on.”

England, battling to get any sort of continuity in the gale, would have been relatively pleased to reach halftime 3-0 up as Farrell landed one of his three penalty attempts.

Adam Hastings levelled it at 3-3 soon after the restart as Scotland came out full of energy, but, after a ragged period with barely a pass going to hand or a kick going where it was intended, England finally managed to gain some ground.

They thought they had cashed in for a try after 69 minutes when Scottish captain Stuart Hogg, who dropped the ball while trying to touch down a straightforward try in Scotland’s defeat in Ireland last week, fumbled a George Ford kick under his own posts.

Farrell dived on the loose ball, but the TMO ruled that Hogg had just managed to touch it down first.

England’s frustration lasted only a minute though as, from the subsequent scrum, replacement prop Genge was forced over by half the England pack for the only try of the game.

Farrell converted for a 10-3 lead then settled the match with a penalty in the 77th minute. Hastings landed a penalty for the hosts but it was too late as they have now lost two in a row after defeat in Dublin last week.

England coach Eddie Jones was upbeat. “Apart from one 15-minute period we dominated the game and dominated field position,” he said. “We had a few poor kicks but we dominated possession and we finished it off, which we didn’t do last week.”

Jones was less impressed by the Murrayfield crowd’s booing of Farrell as he lined up his goalkicks. “I thought you were supposed to show kickers respect,” said the Australian.

England next face Ireland in two weeks, with Andy Farrell’s team top of the standings after their victory over Wales in Dublin earlier on Saturday.

Scotland travel to Italy next in desperate need of victory after back-to-back defeats, not that coach Gregor Townsend was sounding downhearted.

“I thought the way we played in the second half was excellent, given the conditions,” he said. “To show what we did for the first 15 minutes, to force errors and penalties was good. It was just that five-minute period that England got into our 22 that we have to remedy.”