England 6-11 Scotland: 'A collective Calcutta Cup win for the ages'

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland

For Scotland, the last act was glorious, the totemic Hamish Watson hauling the ball out of English hands on the floor and hoofing it into the empty Twickenham stands with triumphant abandon.

His kick, much like the great flanker's barnet, was not aesthetically beautiful, not as cosmic as some of the spirals that George Ford had been talking about earlier in the week, the technically excellent strikes that he was intending to bring to the 150th Calcutta Cup.

Watson's effort was an agricultural thump, but to the Scots it was just about the most gorgeous thing they'd seen on a rugby field in an age.

Having found Row Z, Watson jogged away on his victory lap, looking to referee Andrew Brace to blow his whistle and then celebrating wildly when he did.

Three weeks ago, Watson spoke passionately about his belief that Scotland could win this game. He said he wasn't speaking out of professional obligation, he wasn't delivering a PR line.

He was saying it because he meant it and he didn't give a tuppenny damn - his actual words may have been more colourful - whether people outside Scotland's bubble thought them capable of it or not.

You admired his fighting talk, but not half as much as you admired what he and his marauding mates produced on Saturday. In the vernacular of the day, Scotland home schooled their oldest rivals at Twickenham. The scoreboard might say otherwise, but the Scots won hands down.

In every conceivable facet of the game, Scotland triumphed. Line-out, scrum, breakdown - win, win, win. Discipline, physicality, aerial battle - win, win, win. The Scottish ball carriers routed their opposite numbers.

Gregor Townsend selected well, Eddie Jones selected badly. The Saracens boys looked off the pace, which is hardly a surprise given they've not been playing. The dangerous runners in their backline were anonymous, which was not a revelation given they'd no ball to attack with.

No rugby nation has delivered more false dawns than Scotland, but this is their fourth straight win in the Six Nations - including the three from last season.

In the autumn they won in Wales for the first time in 18 years. On Saturday they won at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years. God bless their predecessors from 1983, but it's time those heroes were allowed to rest.

They didn't just keep England try-less, they kept England virtually chance-free. Surely this isn't Scotland turning a corner. Surely it's them around the corner and down the road towards properly contending for a championship for the first time since 1999.

So much of the build-up circled around the myriad things the Scots would need to get right on the day and towards the top of every list read the name Finn Russell.

The fly-half would need to have a worldy of a game. Every kick, every pass, every break would have to be vintage Finn. His vast range of skills would need to be on display from first minute to last.

The truth is this was a victory of the collective. There were no miraculous moments from Russell, no scything plays, no passes like the thing of wonder from the Calcutta Cup in 2018, no mesmeric stuff redolent of the second half in 2019. Russell was decent, but nothing more. This win was about the team.

Belief comes slowly when you're a Scotland fan. Early on, England looked desperately out of sorts, but that wouldn't last, right? They'd already conceded five penalties before the 15th minute, but they'd get their act together soon enough and deliver another tale of woe to their visitors.

We waited and waited for England's dominance to come.

They lost a line-out and gave up a seventh and eighth penalty. Billy Vunipola walked to the sin bin. They avoided the concession of a try by the skin of their teeth when Russell's cross-kick bounced too high for Duhan van der Merwe.

That was the kind of moment we expected to revisit later on, the chances that Scotland spurned, the post mortem on where it all went wrong, the endless game of what might have been.

But there was a twist. Two minutes after wasting a chance they came back down and scored. A lovely kick from Russell, an excellent chase from Sean Maitland, a move out the backline to George Turner, their third-choice hooker playing like a demon, and onwards to Van der Merwe.

The South African wing brushed off Elliot Daly like a piece of fluff he'd spotted on his coat and then monstered his way over despite the efforts of half of England, as Bill McLaren might have put it.

Bill may no longer be with us, but he'll have been there in spirit on Saturday. Mere death would not have stopped him from watching this.

England 6-11 Scotland: Stuart Hogg 'chuffed' as Scotland re-write history at Twickenham

Before the break, Scotland got wobbly and conceded six points to Owen Farrell's boot. Russell stuck out a leg and got binned himself.

Again, the Scottish fatalism would have kicked in. They had 72% possession and 74% territory and just a two-point lead. The stuff about 'being in this movie' before would have been aired anew.

Another twist. Scotland didn't concede a point while Russell was away. Curious. Not in the script. They wound down the clock until his return and then he booted a penalty that made it 11-6.

Scotland showed this kind of game intelligence against Wales in Llanelli, but this was England at Twickenham. This was different.

The moments that made the Scots believe kept on coming. Hogg accelerated out of defence and ate up road, leaving Ellis Genge gasping. A minute later, Maitland did the same.

Just over 50 minutes gone and England's forward pack looked exhausted. Jones left the stand and appeared on the sideline with an angry head on him. This was not how it was supposed to be.

We entered the last 15 minutes, the pivotal stage that Jones referenced in his media stuff during the week.

"Maybe with 15 minutes to go in the game the expectation is going to pretty heavy for them," said the England coach, a comment which now resides in the same category as Jamie George's talk about wanting to "take teams apart with our attack" and Ben Young's assertion that "waves of white shirts" make it hard for any opposition to live with England.

The hosts had no idea how to break down Scotland's defence. Any bit of traction they got was soon halted by Watson or Jonny Gray or Jamie Ritchie or Scott Cummings or any number of others.

The front row delivered big time. Hogg got the man of the match but it could have gone to at least 10 different people. The 21-year-old Cam Redpath, a duck to water, was wonderful on his debut.

Scotland's bench appeared and they helped steer it home. Fourth-choice hooker Dave Cherry, another man making his debut - in his case at the age of 30 - was part of an excellent cavalry.

It was only the bad memories of wasted opportunities from yesteryear that made it anxious viewing.

There were ghosts in the room, but there was no real cause to be spooked. Where it mattered, on the pitch, Scotland were in full control.

This team had a bad day against Ireland in Dublin, but that was in the toy department of Test rugby that was the Autumn Nations Cup.

This was the real deal and they delivered and now they have Wales in Edinburgh next, another day, another must-win, another can-win. England might disagree, but this was a searing day not just for Scottish rugby but for Six Nations rugby.

The tournament will be played in virtual silence from the stands, but in other ways this famous win represented the biggest of big bangs.

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