Six Nations 2022: Scotland seal dramatic 20-17 Calcutta Cup win over England - Report and pundit reaction

The hosts secured a historic triumph on Saturday evening.

Scotland got their Guiness Six Nations 2022 campaign off to a winning start and retained the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 1984 by beating England in a dramatic 20-17 comeback at Murrayfield.

Gregor Townsend’s men headed into the clash as many spectators’ uneasy favourites, and looked to be living up to their billing after taking an early 7-3 lead thanks to Ben White’s debut try, converted by the impressive Finn Russell.

Marcus Smith, who would go on to rack up all 17 of England’s points, responded with a penalty to narrow the hosts’ lead down to just one point, but another Russell intervention on the stroke of half-time saw the two teams go in at the interval with the scores at 10-6.

After the break, Eddie Jones’ visitors - inspired by the superb Smith - looked to have found another gear, and an unconverted try book-ended by two confidently dispatched penalties were enough for England to open up a seven-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes.

Ultimately though, the result would hinge on a couple of key moments.

Advertisement

The first arguably came when Jones took the decision to replace Smith with George Ford in an effort to bolster his side’s hopes of seeing out the game, and the second left England a man down after Luke Cowan-Dickie was sin-binned for deliberately slapping a searching Russell cross-kick into touch.

Scotland were consequently awarded a penalty try, and with time ticking away and the scores tied at 17-17, it fell to Russell once more to squeeze home an angled penalty that handed his side a marginal, unassailable lead.

As well as ensuring that the Scots’ Six Nations campaign got off to the best possible start in front of a raucous home crowd, their 20-17 victory also meant that they kept hold of the Calcutta Cup for a second successive year for the first time in almost four decades.

As for England, despite dominating possession and territory for large swathes of the match, the fatal combination of a clunky, disjointed attacking display and a resolute Scottish defence ultimately proved to be their undoing.

Next up for Jones’ men is a meeting with perennial wooden spoon holders Italy in Rome, while Scotland will look to build on this evening’s result in their meeting with current champions Wales.

Advertisement

How did pundits react to Scotland’s win over England?

Unsurprisingly, much of the focus in the aftermath of the match was on a hugely spirited Scotland display.

Speaking to BBC Sport after the final whistle, ex-Scotland flanker John Barclay said: “It could have gone either way.

“We talked pre-show about the evolution in Scotland’s game, we talked about how they win games - that game was won on defence.

“Yeah, there were some moments of brilliance from Finn Russell and there was some superb play, but based on guts, on defence, on determination, it was a really, really gutsy performance by Scotland there.”

Likewise, former Wales star Sam Warburton praised the Scots for the manner in which they overcame some of the mental barricades that have hindered their national team in years gone by.

Advertisement

He said: “I know there was a lot of pessimism from Scottish fans coming into this game, they almost didn’t like that favourites tag, but Scotland needed to break those chains and they did that.

“Without putting too much pressure on Scotland, I thought they had to win today, to prove to themselves.

“Scotland have got a heck of a team. They’ve been building so nicely, and I hope this is a real turning point for Scottish fans. Expect your team to win. Believe in your team.

“They’re a fantastic side, great individuals, really good forward pack. They did what they had to do.”

Ben White of Scotland makes a break to score against England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

And despite their defeat, England legend Martin Johnson argued that there were plenty of reasons for Jones’ side to be positive moving forward.

Advertisement

He said: “I think England will be disappointed to lose, obviously. It’s never great, but I think they’ve got a lot of improvement in them.

“I think they dominated large parts of that game and they’ll think, ‘Actually we can be a good percentage better next time we play’.

“There are lots of positives for them to take out. When they come together and get over the disappointment, they can say, ‘Hey guys, we could have won that game, and we can get a lot lot better from here on in’.”

What did both coaches have to say?

Reflecting on his side’s performance against the backdrop of a deafening Murrayfield crowd, Scotland head coach Townsend said: “[Our self-belief] is excellent, as is our character. We were behind and came back. Some of our best rugby was in the last 15 minutes in tricky conditions.

“Finn Russell was superb all game. It means so much to Scotland as a nation. We know we can improve going forward.

Advertisement

“It counts for nothing if we don’t back it up with a performance next week.

“We know how tough it is to play Wales in their own stadium in the Six Nations. We know we can play better and we’ll have to do that next week.”

Luke Cowan-Dickie of England throws the ball into touch under pressure from Darcy Graham of Scotland, resulting in a penalty try. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

For his part, England chief Jones delivered a fittingly frank assessment of Saturday’s outcome, and highlighted the importance of his side’s immediate response to the disappointment.

“Scotland were a bit better than us and took their chances”, he said.

“There wasn’t much in it, but congratulations to Scotland.

Advertisement

“We don’t apportion any blame to Luke [Cowan-Dickie] - the referee adjudged it was a yellow card and we have to get on with it. We had opportunities to kick on, but we just weren’t clinical enough.

“Given the quality of the competition, we just have to go to Italy and win.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.