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6 Nations

England v Scotland. Game of the tournament? How it went down.

Match report and reaction from the final round of the Six Nations on Saturday

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Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Scotland produced a remarkable second-half display to turn around a 31-7 deficit in the final game of the 2019 Six Nations at Twickenham.

England, who were confirmed runners-up following Wales’ crushing victory over Ireland, needed a last-gasp George Ford try to save their blushes.

A Sam Johnson try five minutes from time look to have secured Scotland a memorable 38-31 victory, but Ford scored under the posts in overtime and converted, leaving the final score 38-38.

After a blistering first half an hour, tries from Jack Nowell, Tom Curry, Joe Launchbury and Jonny May had put England on course for a comfortable win.

A Stuart McInally breakaway try just before half-time looked to be a mere consolation.

But after the interval England capitulated – with Scotland running in five unanswered tries.

Darcy Graham scored twice either side of a Magnus Bradbury try, and Finn Russell crossed before Johnson put Gregor Townsend’s side ahead.

Although Wales’ victory earlier in the day had secured the title, Eddie Jones will be furious his England side were unable to end the campaign on a win.

For Scotland, there are mixed emotions – they may have retained the Calcutta Cup, and produced one of the most remarkable comebacks international rugby has seen – but players and fans alike will be left wondering: ‘what if?’.

How it happened

The 137th installment of a 145-year rivalry kicked off in front of a slightly subdued Twickenham, following the Welsh victory over Ireland earlier in the day – and after 66 seconds it had it’s first try.

Jack Nowell stepped in off the right-wing and eluded the Scottish cover to score the first of the games 11 tries.

A smart line-out routine five metres from the line then allowed flanker Tom Curry his second try of the competition.

Then, before the game was even 15 minutes old, a barn-storming run from Ellis Genge set the platform for Kyle Sinckler, before the ball was worked out to second-row Joe Launchbury who dived over for England’s third.

Jonny May, the championships top try scorer, bagged his 6th of the competition just before the half hour mark after an audacious backhanded pass by Henry Slade.

There was a swagger about Eddie Jones’ side in the early stages, with some slick handling and flowing rugby.

Hooker McInally’s try for Scotland just before halftime proved to be the start of a mistake-ridden 45-minutes for England.

The usually unflappable Owen Farrell’s kick was charged down by McInally, who ran from halfway to score – a weak tackle from May on the 22-metre line did little to slow his progress.

After the break, Scotland’s backline sprang to life and produced some scintillating rugby to carve through England’s panicking defence.

Winger Graham scored six minutes into the half, courtesy of some clever offloading and feeble English tackling.

Back-rower Bradbury collected Ali Price’s clever chip to score, before Graham crossed again in the corner to put Scotland within a converted try of England with 25 minutes to go.

As head coach Eddie Jones watched on in horror, England then conceded again.

Finn Russell picked off a Farrell pass and raced away to score a third Scottish try in 10 minutes, before Greig Laidlaw slotted the conversion to level the scores at 31-31.

A stunned England began to regain a foothold in the game, but an intelligent Russell pass fed Johnson, who bullied his way over the line.

It seemed that try would end Scotland’s 36-year wait for a win at Twickenham in the most dramatic fashion.

But the last and arguably best game of the 2019 Six Nations had one more twist – England reached the Scotland five metre line three minutes into overtime, before Ford dummied and went over under the posts.

Ford then converted, levelling the scores once again at 38-38, and bringing a breathless contest to an end.

For Townsend’s Scotland, this game accentuated how brilliant – and how poor – they have been in spells of this competition.

For Jones’ England, there is a growing concern that his current squad struggle to deal with the mental demands of competing at the peak of international rugby.

Either way, it was fitting final bow for a fascinating 2019 Six Nations.

What they said

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell was devastated at the final whistle, but was quick to praise his sides second-half performance.

“I’m gutted to be honest,” he said. “At half-time, everyone would have written Scotland off, it was 31-7 and for us to come out and have a second half like that was outstanding.

“It shows the character the boys have and I’m just so disappointed and gutted we didn’t managed to finish it off at the end after Sammy’s try with a couple of minutes to go and seven points up.”

Man-of-the-match Russell also revealed that there was an “argument” between himself and head coach Gregor Townsend during the half time break, as Scotland trailed 31-7.

“I actually had an argument with Gregor [at half-time],” Russell told ITV.

“I said to him ‘you’re telling us to kick and when we kick, they just run it back and cut us open, and when we run it, they’re just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back’.

“Second half, we just came out with nothing to lose, played our rugby, kicked out of our half and scored some great tries. We played good Scottish rugby.”

His teammate Darcy Graham, who scored two tries in the incredible second-half display, was also keen to praise his sides fightback.

“We had a good look at ourselves at half-time,” Graham told BBC Scotland.

“We just said, ‘let’s see what we can get out this game’. We spoke about putting pride back into our badge because it was an embarrassing first half.

“I think we’ve shown that, we’ve put pride into that Scotland badge and it’s just outstanding from the boys.”

England head coach Eddie Jones bemoaned his teams inability to see out games, and called for his players to “put teams like Scotland away”.

“It is a recurring thing. It is not a one off,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“When you want to be the best side in the world you have to put sides like Scotland away. We had the opportunity to do it and we didn’t.”

Jones also pointed to ill-discipline as an explanation for England slipping up against a side that finished second-bottom of the Six Nations.

“We just lacked discipline to keep doing the simple things well,” he added.

“We failed to get control and discipline back into the game when it gets loose, and we think we are on top and get a bit ‘free-wheely’.

“It’s 100% mental – there was no physical difference. It’s going to take some digging deep into the team psyche.”

Match Highlights:

6 Nations

Paul O’Connell Joins Ireland Coaching Group

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has joined the Ireland national coaching group as forwards coach with Simon Easterby to focus on defence.

Paul was capped 108 times by Ireland and captained the team to Six Nations success in 2014.  O’Connell’s distinguished playing career also included seven Test match appearances for the British & Ireland Lions across three tours and two Heineken Cup titles with Munster.

Since retiring from playing in 2015, Paul has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland Under-20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.

O’Connell commented:

“I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group. I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and there are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell commented:

“Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out working alongside John (Fogarty). He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group.

“Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past 12 months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.

“The weekend’s Interpro games and the European fixtures in the weeks ahead will give players the opportunity to push for selection for the Six Nations squad. The squad will not be selected until after the Champions Cup Round 4 fixtures have been completed.”

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented: “Paul is a young Irish coach with a huge amount of international rugby experience. We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish Rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well. He joins the national coaching group with immediate effect as they prepare for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.”

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6 Nations

Scotland name strong team for Wales

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Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Issued by SRU

Stuart Hogg will return to the Scotland starting line-up as Captain for the final round of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations against Wales on Saturday 31 October – kick-off 2:15pm.

Fresh from securing the European and Premiership double with his club Exeter Chiefs, Hogg plays at full back as one of five changes to the starting XV from the Scotland side that defeated Georgia 48-7 last week.

Finn Russell lines up at fly-half after winning his 50th Scotland cap in the Georgia victory at BT Murrayfield on Friday night, and is joined in the half-backs by Glasgow Warriors’ Ali Price.

In the back division, Blair Kinghorn shifts to the wing from full-back and replaces Edinburgh teammate Duhan van de Merwe, who is named among the replacements. James Lang and Chris Harris continue their centre partnership after playing together against Georgia.

In the pack fellow Exeter Chief Jonny Gray comes into the second row and Scarlets’ Blade Thomson is selected at number 8 and will run out on his club ground on Saturday in Llanelli.Hooker Fraser Brown is named as Vice-Captain and packs down with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson in an unchanged front row.

Scott Cummings also retains his starting place to partner Gray in the second row.Edinburgh pair Jamie Ritchie, also a Vice Captain, and Hamish Watson make up the back-row with Thomson.

In the replacements Harlequins scrum-half Scott Steele could make his Scotland debut if called into action.

Adam Hastings and van de Merwe complete the backline replacements. Townsend can also call upon the same front row of Oli Kebble, Stuart McInally and Simon Berghan as featured in against Georgia, alongside Worcester Warrior Cornell du Preez and Edinburgh’s Ben Toolis from the bench.

“As a group we are very much looking forward to finally completing our fixture against Wales and returning to play Guinness Six Nations rugby again. We were highly motivated back in March, and that extra edge has come back into our training and preparations this week.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend

“It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks. We were also encouraged by Blade’s display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend’s injury to Matt Fagerson.

“We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli. Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.”

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6 Nations

Wales XV announced for 6 Nations finale v Scotland.

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Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will become rugby’s most capped international on Saturday when he makes his 149th test appearance (140th for Wales plus 9 British & Irish Lions caps).

Jones levelled the record last weekend but will take the honour for himself at Parc y Scarlets this weekend as Wales face Scotland in their re-arranged Guinness Six Nations finale (14.15 KO BBC & S4C).

At the other end of the international spectrum, Cardiff Blues back-row Shane Lewis-Hughes will make his first test appearance for Wales in a back-row alongside experienced Lions duo Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Will Rowlands, fresh from the English Premiership Final with Wasps, comes into the side to make his first start for Wales and he packs down alongside captain Jones.

European Champion and English Premiership winner Tomas Francis comes into the front-row alongside Rhys Carre and Ryan Elias.

In the backline Gareth Davies partners Dan Biggar with Owen Watkin coming into the midfield alongside Jonathan Davies.

Liam Williams returns to the back-three to feature alongside Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny.

On the bench Sam Parry, Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis provide the front-row replacements with Cory Hill and James Davies completing the forward contingent. Lloyd Williams comes straight into the matchday squad and provides backline cover along with Rhys Patchell and Nick Tompkins.

Issued by WRU

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