Guinness Six Nations
Scots denied famous win after Twickenham heroics
Scots staged stunning fightback (pic: SNS Group)
England 38 Scotland 38
The old adage ‘a game of two halves’ was never more in evidence as Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup in what has been billed as the greatest ever contest against the ‘auld enemy.
Looking dishevelled and out-run by a powerful England team, the visitors somehow conjured a remarkable comeback from a 31-point deficit to have the most most unlikely victory snatched away in the last moments of a thrilling contest.
With barely half an hour on the clock, a rampant England had stormed into what looked like an unassailable lead, scoring at the rate of a point per minute. Former Scotland and British Lions player John Beattie tweeted that he was struggling to watch. His alarm at what he was seeing was shared among fellow Scots who feared an embarrassing rout. Yet, somehow England failed to add to their point-scoring until the 83rd minute.
The hosts opened the scoring after just 66 seconds, quickly adding four more tries. After Stuart McInally’s breakaway try before the interval to finally put some Scottish points on the scoreboard, it seemed as if the second half would be about saving pride for the visitors. However, as poor as Scotland were in the opening 40 minutes, they were sensational in the second period, running in another five unanswered tries to stun the English. No visiting team had ever scored so many tries at Twickenham.
With Finn Russell, pictured, pulling the strings superbly, the remarkable fightback saw Darcy Graham (2), Magnus Bradbury and Finn Russell all touched down before Sam Johnson went over with just a couple of minutes remaining to incredibly put the Scots 38-31 ahead.
The visitors were now within touching distance of their first Twickenham win since 1983 but couldn’t see out the game. George Ford went over in injury time with the conversion securing the draw and completing a Six Nations’ fixture which will be talked about for years to come.
Speaking after the game, Russell said: “I’m gutted. At half-time everyone would have written Scotland off. For us to come out and have a second half like that shows the character the boys have.
“I’m just so disappointed we didn’t manage to finish it off at the end. The first half we got caught off guard then in the second half we had nothing to lose and we played our rugby. We played good Scottish rugby the second half.
“There were a lot of injuries but the boys who have filled in have been outstanding. The whole campaign has been frustrating. We’ve had close games and not played at our best sometimes. But it’s a good way to finish with the Calcutta Cup back in Scotland.”
England: E Daly; J Nowell, H Slade, M Tuilagi, J May; O Farrell (capt), B Youngs; B Moon, J George, K Sinckler; J Launchbury, G Kruis; M Wilson, T Curry, B Vunipola.
Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie for George 66, E Genge for Moon 5, D Cole for Sinckler 51, B Shields for Wilson 62, N Hughes for Curry 70, B Spencer for Youngs 70, G Ford for Farrell 70, B Te’o.
Scotland: S Maitland; D Graham, N Grigg, S Johnson, B McGuigan; F Russell, A Price; A Dell, S McInally, WP Nel; B Toolis, G Gilchrist; S Skinner, H Watson, M Bradbury.
Replacements: F Brown for McInally 57, G Reid for Dell 45, S Berghan for Nel 62, J Gray for Gilchrist 57, J Strauss for Skinner 57, G Laidlaw for Price 57, A Hastings for Maitland 68, C Harris for Grigg 57.
England: Tries – Nowell, Curry, Launchbury, May, Ford. Conversions – Farrell (4), Ford; Penalties – Farrell.
Scotland: Tries – McInally, Graham (2), Bradbury, Russell, Johnson. Conversions – Russell (2), Laidlaw (2).
Additional reporting by Terry Murden
Wales 25 Ireland 7
The Welsh completed the Grand Slam with a dominating display against the defending champions.
The home side were in no mood to see their attempted clean sweep fail and duly completed their fourth Slam of the Six Nations era with a superb performance.
The Irish had no answer to Wales’ physicality and with Gareth Anscombe scoring 20 points with the boot, the result was rarely in doubt.
It was the Welsh’s 14 successive Test victory and captain Alun Wyn Jones said: “Anything can happen when you work hard and you’re a proud nation and we’ve shown that.
“At times we’ve been unconvincing so we like to think there’s still potential in us. We’re well aware we’ve just put a big target on our backs before the World Cup.”
Speaking after completing his third Grand Slam, coach Warren Gatland said: “We spoke beforehand about the players playing for themselves, their families and the fans and being able to create a bit of history. You can never take that away from them now.”
Wales: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: Elliot Dee; Nicky Smith; Dillon Lewis; Jake Ball; Aaron Wainwright; Aled Davies; Dan Biggar; Owen Watkin.
Ireland: Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong; Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour.
Wales: Try – Parkes; Conversions – Anscombe; Penalties – Anscombe (6).
Ireland: Try – Larmour; Conversion – Carty.
Italy 14 France 25
France recorded their first Six Nations win on the road in two years with a hard-fought triumph in Rome.
The Italians only have themselves to blame, though, being wasteful throughout the game.
They created numerous opportunities but failed to convert the openings and were made to pay by the visitors who ran in three ties from Dupont, Huget and Penaud.
Italy: Hayward, Padovani, Zanon, Morisi, Esposito, Allan, Tebaldi, Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Pasquali, Sisi, Ruzza, Steyn, Polledri, Parisse.
Replacements: Traore for Lovotti (67), Ferrari for Pasquali (45), Zanni for Sisi (59), Negri for Steyn (63), Sperandio for Esposito (67).
France: Medard, Penaud, Bastareaud, Fofana, Huget, Ntamack, Dupont, Falgoux, Guirado, Bamba, Lambey, Willemse, Alldritt, Camara, Picamoles.
Replacements: Chat for Guirado (18), Priso for Falgoux (64), Aldegheri for Camara (74), Gabrillagues for Willemse (59), Iturria for Alldritt (59), Serin for Dupont (55), Lopez, for Ntamack (79), Ramos for Huget (68).
Italy: Try – Tebaldi; Penalties – Allan (3).
France: Tries – Dupont, Huget, Penaud; Conversions – Ntamack (2); Penalties – Ntamack; Drop goal – Ntamack.