Morning Chronicle - Scotland edge England in Calcutta Cup thriller

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Scotland edge England in Calcutta Cup thriller
Scotland edge England in Calcutta Cup thriller

Scotland edge England in Calcutta Cup thriller

Scotland launched their Six Nations campaign with a dramatic 20-17 win over England at Murrayfield on Saturday as they recorded consecutive Calcutta Cup victories over their arch-rivals for the first time since 1984.

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England were 17-10 ahead, with fly-half Marcus Smith having scored all of their points, when Scotland were awarded a penalty try 15 minutes from time after Luke Cowan-Dickie was ruled to have deliberately knocked on a Finn Russell cross-kick heading towards wing Darcy Graham.

While the act of foul play that earned Cowan-Dickie a yellow card seemed clear enough, referee Ben O'Keeffe also had to decide if a try would probably have been scored but for the hooker's intervention.

Russell then added a penalty before Scotland survived a series of scrums to see the game out and spark joyous scenes among a 67,000-capacity home crowd in a Test match that saw the return of spectators to their Edinburgh headquarters for the first time since the pandemic.

Defeat was hard on the 22-year-old Smith who, in his first away international and just the sixth Test of his career, scored a well-taken try and kicked four penalties.

England, in the latest edition of rugby's oldest international fixture, dominated territory and possession in the first half.

But they turned round 10-6 behind after Scotland replacement Ben White marked his Test debut with a converted try and Russell added a penalty following two from opposing No 10 Smith.

- Rising star Smith -

Rising star Smith cut Scotland's lead to 10-9 early in the second half with a close-range penalty.

After a strong drive by England's pack, Smith went in on the blindside for a 53rd-minute try that saw England lead at 14-10.

Smith missed the ensuing conversion but he kicked England further ahead with a 63rd-minute penalty before coach Eddie Jones replaced him with the experienced George Ford.

It had seemed England would make their forward power count before they lost their discipline late on.

England were missing several first-choice players due to injury, including captain Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes, their stand-in skipper in November.

The visitors were also without Jonny May, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Sam Underhill, Jonny Hill, and the Vunipola brothers.

At the age of 23, flanker Tom Curry, 23, became England's youngest captain since Will Carling in 1988.

After the pre-match rain and wind at Murrayfield had eased, Smith got into the game with a sharp pass that allowed wing Max Malins to combine with Freddie Steward before the full-back was bundled into touch by Scotland captain and opposite number Stuart Hogg five metres short of the try-line.

It wasn't until the 17th minute that England went ahead with a Smith penalty.

But a minute later Scotland went ahead thanks to a try scored from their first real attack.

Sam Johnson carried hard from a line-out before finding Hogg as the full-back came into the line.

Hogg then released Darcy Graham and the Scotland wing stepped inside Joe Marchant before finding White, on as a head injury replacement for scrum-half Ali Price, who finished an excellent move.

Russell kicked the conversion and Scotland led 7-3.

England, having seen Scotland defend a catch-and-drive maul off a penalty, went for the posts next time and Smith cut the lead to 7-6 before Russell edged the hosts further in front with the last kick of the half.

Smith reduced the gap with his third penalty and then, after good work by the England pack, stepped sharply off his right foot to evade the defence for a well-taken try.