Morning Chronicle - Hogg elated as Scotland 'stand firm' against England in Six Nations

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Hogg elated as Scotland 'stand firm' against England in Six Nations
Hogg elated as Scotland 'stand firm' against England in Six Nations

Hogg elated as Scotland 'stand firm' against England in Six Nations

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg saluted his side's resilience after they came from behind to beat arch-rivals England 20-17 in their Six Nations opener at Murrayfield on Saturday.

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England led 17-10 with 15 minutes left when Scotland were awarded an equalising penalty try by referee Ben O'Keeffe after hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie batted a Finn Russell cross-kick into touch, with Darcy Graham poised to collect the ball.

O'Keeffe also sent Cowan-Dickie to the sin-bin before Russell's penalty following a botched England line-out edged Scotland ahead.

Scotland then held their nerve amid several England scrums, as the clock ticked beyond the regulation 80 minutes, before recording back-to-back Calcutta Cup wins for the first time since 1984.

England had been dominant early on only for Scotland to lead 10-6 at half-time after replacement Ben White marked his Test debut with a try.

"The biggest thing for us is that we've been able to absorb pressure for a long time," said Hogg.

"It's now about flipping that on its head and applying pressure and I think we did exactly that," he added, with Scotland looking for more success away to Wales next weekend after the reigning Six Nations champions were overwhelmed 29-7 by Ireland in Dublin earlier Saturday.

"I don't think England got through multiple phases very often and we managed to stand firm."

- 'Amazing atmosphere' -

Scotland have lost just one of the last five Calcutta Cup encounters and for coach Gregor Townsend this success was as enjoyable as last season's 11-6 victory away to England that ended their 38-year wait for a win at Twickenham.

"This feels just as good," said Townsend as he paid tribute to the impact of a capacity 67,000 crowd at Murrayfield following a 2021 Six Nations played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"To hear and feel that atmosphere was amazing. We missed the crowd at this fixture last year so to have them back in full voice was special."

England coach Eddie Jones refused to hold Cowan-Dickie responsible for a defeat in a match where 22-year-old fly-half Marcus Smith scored all of the visitors' points, including a well-taken try.

"Luke is disappointed, that happens in the moment," he said.

"We have only got ourselves to blame. We are massively disappointed. Scotland deserved to win, but we dominated a lot of the game but didn't get the points out of the domination."

"We will go to Italy next week and be even better," he added.

O'Keeffe decided against rewarding England's scrum dominance by awarding a late penalty that might have enabled them to tie the game.

Reflecting on the New Zealander's ruling, Jones jokingly suggested he might follow the lead of Rassie Erasmus after the South Africa supremo's lengthy video critique of the match officials during the Springboks' series win over the British and Irish Lions last year.

"It was three points at the end and the referee becomes pretty influential in those situations," Jones said.

"Wait for the video, I have got the production team on it now. It is called 'Rassie In Love With'," the Australian added.