Scotland retain Calcutta Cup despite Ford heroics in epic

By Ben Spratt 17 March 2019 10
Scotland retain Calcutta Cup despite Ford heroics in epic

George Ford rescued England from the biggest comeback in Six Nations history as his 84th-minute try earned a 38-38 draw with Scotland at Twickenham.

There might well have been fears that this match could have been considered a non-event after Wales wrapped up the Six Nations Grand Slam before kick-off, but it proved anything but.

England, who came into the weekend still in the running for the championship, quickly put their disappointment behind them with four tries without reply to take complete control.

But Stuart McInally's score before half-time brought Scotland back into contention and they were sensationally level with around 20 minutes to play, before Sam Johnson looked to have completed an incredible turnaround.

There was one last twist in the tale of this classic, though, and Ford stormed under the posts from England's final attack to at least partially spare Eddie Jones' blushes, though Scotland retain the Calcutta Cup.

England's Jack Nowell - selected ahead of Joe Cokanasiga - danced inside from the right past four men to touch down in little over a minute and there was no let up in that early pace.

Tom Curry profited on a smart set-piece as a low lineout caught Scotland short, before Kyle Sinckler charged through and, with the visitors unable to regroup, Joe Launchbury went over.

Ben Youngs was denied try number four as he knocked Nowell's kick forward, but Owen Farrell converted a penalty and Henry Slade's cute reverse pass then sent Jonny May through to score.

A blocked Farrell kick and mistimed May tackle allowed McInally to get Scotland off the mark on the break and England were slowed further by half-time.

Scotland's belated first flowing move ended with Darcy Graham dodging a pair of challenges to lunge over in the left corner and then Ali Price teed up Magnus Bradbury for another quick try.

The visitors were rampant and Graham got his second with another free-flowing score, before the deficit was wiped out completely when Finn Russell picked off Farrell's pass to cross, with Greig Laidlaw kicking the extras.

Then came Johnson's moment as the visitors bore a hole in England's defence and he was left free, able to dodge despairing challenges and go under the posts for what looked to be the winner.

But England finally awoke from their slumber and after a period of extended pressure, Ford worked a gap through the centre and lunged for the line, converting his own try to seal the highest-scoring draw in international rugby history.


Jones' decision to select Nowell over Cokanasiga - ridiculed by many - looked to have paid off when he played a key role in a dominant first-half display, opening the scoring and threatening throughout. But Scotland turned the tide after the break and Russell was key, involved in everything as the visitors tightened up the defence and picked apart a reeling home side.


Wales' result meant there was little pressure on England, while Scotland similarly had little to lose when they trailed 31-0. The circumstances contributed to a gripping encounter with attacking flair evident in both sides. These two bitter rivals really looked to be enjoying themselves in possession and there were stunning tries for either side - from a fine first-half England lineout to Johnson's brave late dash.

Key Opta Facts

- This was the first draw in the Calcutta Cup since 2010, while the last time it happened at Twickenham was back in 1989.
- England scored 31 points in the first half, their most ever at half-time in a match against Scotland, surpassing the 30 points they scored after 40 minutes in 2017.
- England led by 24 points at half-time and failed to win, that is the joint highest half-time lead any tier one team has failed to go on and win from in Test history. South Africa (v New Zealand) and Argentina (v Australia) each lost despite leading by 24 points after 40 minutes on the same day in October 2018.
- Scotland's tally of 38 points was their most ever in a game against England, surpassing the 33 points they scored against the English back in 1986. This was also the first time any team has scored tries against England at Twickenham in Test rugby.
- Farrell scored 11 points to take him past 400 in the Six Nations, he is the second England player to reach that tally after Jonny Wilkinson (546).
- May has scored 14 tries for England since the beginning of 2018, more than any other player in Test rugby in that time.

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Ben Spratt