England and Scotlands rollercoaster 38-38 draw at Twickenham was one of the most remarkable rugby union matches ever seen.
England surrendered a 31-point advantage as Scotland produced a stirring second-half comeback to take the lead, before George Ford salvaged a point for the hosts in the highest-scoring draw in international history with a converted try in the 83rd minute.
“When we went to Doncaster and Sandy Park the support was fantastic, here at the home of English rugby I dont think there is a better or more special place to win a Grand Slam championship.”
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Former internationals Paul Grayson and Andy Nicol, who were commentating on the match for BBC Radio 5 live, tried to make sense of what happened.
The responsibility of being sole captain and chief playmaker is a “massive ask” for Englands Owen Farrell, said former England fly-half Grayson.
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Farrell was replaced by Ford in the second half at Twickenham, moments after he was fortunate to avoid a yellow card for what appeared to be a late tackle on Darcy Graham.
“I feel Owen Farrells job spec is so big that the full captaincy on his own is a massive ask,” said Grayson.
“He got himself into another messy collision which maybe happens when he is under stress and trying to fix things on his own.”
Farrell, the sole captain in the absence of injured joint-leader Dylan Hartley, also made two mistakes that resulted in Scotland tries as England lost control of the match.
The Saracens fly-half had a kick charged down by hooker Stuart McInally, who collected the loose ball to score Scotlands opening try five minutes from half-time.
The 27-year-old also had a pass intercepted by opposite number Finn Russell, who raced clear to score a converted try under the posts as Scotland stunned Twickenham with five second-half tries.
Townsend also singled out three other players for specific praise; Magnus Bradbury who played the full 80 with precious little rugby in his legs this season, Darcy Graham who grabbed a brace in what was only his second international start and Sam Johnson who, the coach said, had claimed one of the best tries Scotland have ever scored.
“He has got so much on his plate as fly-half that when England got into trouble against Wales and Scotland, maybe he tries to do it all and he loses himself,” said Grayson.
That was a unique game, Townsend marvelled at the close of play. I have never been involved in a game like that as a player or a coach. Not many games of rugby end up being 31-0, then 38-31 and then end up 38-38 especially when you consider the team we were up against. Its the most unusual game I have been involved in.
“Maybe having finishers like Dylan Hartley coming off the bench in the final quarter with a calm head, is something Eddie Jones looks at.”
I actually had an argument with Gregor at half-time, said the Scotland stand-off when interviewed live on camera immediately after the match. He was telling us to kick and I said, every time we kick they run it back at us and cut us open. We were tackling them behind the gainline so we had to fix that.
Former Scotland scrum-half Nicol went through a “rollercoaster of emotions” during the match. Heres how he reacted to the key moments:
The visitors were just seconds from securing a first victory at Twickenham in 36 years, and Nicol said “a little moment amongst all the madness” prevented Gregor Townsends men from securing a historic win.
6:38 Highlights from England's Grand Slam win over Scotland to win the 2019 Women's Six Nations trophy. Highlights from Englands Grand Slam win over Scotland to win the 2019 Womens Six Nations trophy. The Red Roses secured the 2019 Womens Six Nations Grand Slam with a 80-0 bonus-point win over Scotland at Twickenham Stadium.
“George Ford scored a good try but its devastating for Scotland who have done so much to get back into contention. Its incredible to even be disappointed with a draw after being 31-0 down.
“They dug themselves out of a massive hole with proper rugby but they had a little moment in amongst all the madness. Had Hamish Watson put Jonny May into touch it would have been game over, but England went down the other end and scored the try.
“There were clearly system errors in the first half and the body language wasnt great but they turned it around and the positives definitely outweighed the negatives.
“Finn Russell pulled the strings in the second half beautifully, he had a no look pass for Sam Johnsons try and you probably saw the best attacking stand-off in world rugby bring it all out.”
Scotland were 31-0 down at a place where they havent won since 1983. They were injury ravaged and players were embarrassed, having a go at each other under the posts. To then lead 38-31 was ridiculous and that is why we love sport.
It was an amazing achievement by Scotland and they will be gutted because they could have seen that game out and were in control. England had to go 80 metres but there was so much pride salvaged by Scotland, who needed it after a poor tournament.
There are so many questions that remain about England. However brilliant they look when they are good, when they are off it they can look like the wheels are falling off.
Before today, England, Ireland and Wales looked very evenly matched. That still looks the case, however, Wales showed a hard-edged ability to win tight Test matches and live up to the pressure, England can still fall off the cliff in the second half and Ireland have possibly peaked a year too early.
I think Eddie Jones was candid enough to acknowledge there are massive things to fix, but then he said there was still time to do it. This was the last competitive game before the World Cup. They have four warm-up matches, with one against Italy, so is that going to be enough to solve it?
Or are we going to go to another World Cup where you still worry about England when the chips are down and the momentum is swinging?
Eddie Jones, the England head coach, admitted his players lost control in the second half against Scotland and called on them to dig deep into their own psyches ahead of the World Cup to fix a long-standing problem.
Joness team capitulated in spectacular fashion at Twickenham, conceding five second-half tries and almost gifting Scotland the Calcutta Cup after taking what should have been a commanding 31-0 lead before half time.
Stuart McInally scored just before half time before Gregor Townsends men mounted the most astonishing comeback in Six Nations history, only for England replacement George Ford to salvage a draw for England.
Following similar second-half collapses against South Africa last summer and Wales in Cardiff during the Six Nations, Englands coach knows his team has…
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