05 Feb Scotland (6) 9-15 (7) England
Scotland lost out to England 15-9 in their opening RBS Six Nations match at BT Murrayfield in a physical battle played out in front of a sell-out crowd, which meant that the visitors retained the Calcutta Cup.
England scored two tries to Scotland’s nil with George Kruis and Jack Nowell touching down. Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw kicked all of the hosts’ points.
Kruis went over in the first half with Nowell cementing England’s lead in the second before Scotland began to pressurise in the final 20 minutes.
A string of penalties prevented the home side from a final score with England maintaining possession in the closing stages to see out the game.
Scotland Head Coach, Vern Cotter, said: “It was a frustrating night and we probably weren’t accurate enough. We created opportunities to win the game but we just couldn’t keep the ball.”
“As a team we can get so much better. In the second period we never got out of our half and there were a couple of lost balls.
“We intercepted the ball in the second half and if we had ran the full length of the pitch then perhaps we would have won the game.”
Early mistakes from both sides dominated proceedings in the opening exchanges but it was England who exerted the majority of pressure with several attacks from deep.
A penalty from the Scottish lineout led to English possession with their forwards capitalising on a scrum metres out from which George Ford sent a drop goal attempt wide.
Nowell and Anthony Watson looked lively with Nowell sending a kick through and chasing effectively to force Stuart Hogg over the line for an English scrum five metres out.
That was the platform for No 8 Billy Vunipola to pick up and set up Danny Care who found Kruis who crashed over to the right of the posts before Owen Farrell converted in the 14th minute.
Scotland responded with several attacking phases before Laidlaw slotted a penalty to get his team on the scoreboard in the 16th minute.
The hosts continued to pressurise through Mark Bennett, Tommy Seymour and Hogg before another penalty opportunity presented itself for Laidlaw, with the scrum-half narrowly missing as the game approached the half hour mark.
Laidlaw combined well with Seymour on the attack before a penalty was awarded minutes before half-time and the Scottish captain sliced the posts.
Out-half Finn Russell pulled the strings as the game approached the interval and attempted a drop goal after several drives from the forwards before sending it wide for a half-time score of 6-7.
Half-time: Scotland 6-7 England
A missed opportunity before half-time and despite early possession in the second-half Scotland could not dent England’s claustrophobic defence.
England were soon awarded a penalty after the break with Scotland collapsing the maul but Farrell missed to keep the teams within a point of one another.
England struck, however, in the 50th minute as Ford went on the attack in the Scottish 22 and then found replacement Mako Vunipola who sent the ball out to Farrell, as Nowell collected to sprint for the score in the right corner.
Farrell missed the conversion and minutes later Russell intercepted the ball for Scotland deep in his own territory only to kick to touch seemingly unaware of Hogg lurking outside him on the left.
England continued to pressurise and a penalty was awarded which Farrell goaled to extend the visitors’ lead as the game entered into the final 20 minutes.
The final five minutes saw Scotland give their all with forwards and backs combining in a vain attempt to breach the English defence before a knock-on gave possession back to their opponents.
Dylan Hartley’s men took this opportunity to counter and found themselves deep inside Scotland’s 22 with the clock counting down inexorably to a close defeat.
Scotland captain, Laidlaw, said: “We felt as though we put a lot of pressure on them in the first-half but we needed to execute better.
“We’ve got to be brutal with each other next week as we ran into touch and gave away a couple of dumb penalties. All of these things add up.
“We’ve got to learn quickly as we know this tournament is hard. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
Full-time: Scotland 9-15 England
RBS Man of the Match: Billy Vunipola (England)
Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Willem Nel, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, John Hardie, David Denton. Replacements: Stuart McInally for Ford (65’), Gordon Reid for Dickinson (57’), Zander Fagerson [Scotland cap No: 1074] for Nel (69’), Tim Swinson for J Gray (70’), Blair Cowan for Barclay (59’), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Weir, Duncan Taylor for Seymour (66’).
England: Mike Brown; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell; George Ford, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley CAPTAIN, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Jamie George for Hartley (77’), Mako Vunipola for Marler (49’), Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes for Launchbury (47’), Jack Clifford for Robshaw (69’), Ben Youngs for Care (54’), Ollie Devoto, Alex Goode.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
RBS 6 Nations Round One:
Scotland v England, BT Murrayfield Stadium
Saturday 6 February (kick-off 4.50pm)
Scotland have home advantage in a sold-out BT Murrayfield Stadium for their opening round for the 2016 RBS 6 Nations, when they face England for the Calcutta Cup (Saturday 6 February, kick-off 4.50pm) – live on BBC.
The record uptake and interest follows an impressive showing by the national team in the Rugby World Cup 2015 – scoring 17 tries and averaging 34 points per game – before being knocked out of the quarter-final with a penalty in the dying minutes.
Scotland v England team news:
Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter named a settled Scotland side to face England in the opening round of the 2016 RBS 6 Nations Championship this Saturday (kick-off 4.50pm) – live on BBC.
There are just two new faces to the starting XV that took to the field to face Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final; with Matt Scott and John Barclay starting in place of the injured Peter Horne and Blair Cowan (who starts on the bench), in the midfield and back-row respectively.
Scott will partner Mark Bennett in midfield between a talented back-three of Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour; and half-backs Finn Russell and captain Greig Laidlaw; the latter set to equal the cap tally (47) of uncle and former Scotland captain, Roy Laidlaw (1980-88).
In the forwards, Barclay joins John Hardie and David Denton in the back-row, with second-row brothers Jonny and Richie Gray set to start their 10th Test match together, each packing down behind the all-Edinburgh Rugby front-row of Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Willem Nel.
Scotland Head Coach, Vern Cotter, said: “There’s a huge amount of excitement and determination among the group to start well, and do well, in this Championship, and show that they have learned from past experiences and developed their game.”
In the England camp, hooker Dylan Hartley will captain the men in white in Eddie Jones’ first game as Head Coach.
Jones has chosen Owen Farrell at inside centre while Danny Care starts at scrum-half.
Joe Marler is named at loosehead prop with George Kruis partnering Joe Launchbury in the second-row.
Courtney Lawes is fit enough to be named among the replacements which include three debutants – Jack Clifford, Paul Hill and Ollie Devoto.
Harlequins’ Chris Robshaw starts at blind-side flanker, James Haskell is installed at open-side with Billy Vunipola at No 8.
Vunipola is one of three vice-captains along with Farrell and full-back Mike Brown. Between them Jones’ side have 512 international caps as they aim to retain the Calcutta Cup, a trophy they have held since 2008.
“There were some tight calls on selection, but we have picked a match-day squad with a blend of experience and youth,” said Jones.
Scotland team: 15. Stuart Hogg; 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Tommy Seymour; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Greig Laidlaw; 1. Alasdair Dickinson, 2. Ross Ford, 3. Willem Nel, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. John Barclay, 7. John Hardie, 8. David Denton. Substitutes: 16. Stuart McInally, 17. Gordon Reid, 18. Zander Fagerson, 19. Tim Swinson, 20. Blair Cowan, 21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22. Duncan Weir, 23. Duncan Taylor.
England team: 15. Mike Brown; 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Owen Farrell, 11. Jack Nowell; 10. George Ford, 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Joe Launchbury, 5. George Kruis, 6. Chris Robshaw, 7. James Haskell, 8. Billy Vunipola. Substitutes: 16. Jamie George, 17. Mako Vunipola, 18. Paul Hill, 19. Courtney Lawes, 20. Jack Clifford, 21. Ben Youngs, 22. Alex Goode, 23. Ollie Devoto.