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Scotland fight back in stunning Calcutta Cup draw with England

Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Scotland came from 31-0 down only to see their hopes of a first win over England at Twickenham in 36 years dashed in stoppage time as a remarkable Calcutta Cup clash ended in 38-38 draw on Saturday.

The final match of the 2019 Six Nations Championship, the latest edition of rugby union’s oldest international fixture, appeared to be heading England’s way as they surged into a 31-0 lead.

Scotland, however, scored six tries, Darcy Graham crossing twice, in a run of 38 unanswered points to be within minutes of a first Twickenham triumph since 1983.

But with 80 minutes played, England kicked a penalty to touch for an attacking line-out and, in the third minute of extra time at blustery and rainswept Twickenham, replacement fly-half George Ford went over for a try he converted to tie the scores with the last kick of the game.

Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup by virtue of their 25-13 win over England at Murrayfield last year, with England runners-up in the Six Nations.

But this result, following a second-half collapse in a defeat by champions Wales, is bound to lead to questions about England’s nerve. 

England kicked off knowing they no longer had any chance of winning the title after champions Wales completed a Grand Slam by overpowering Ireland 25-7 in Cardiff earlier on Saturday.

But that did not dampen the mood of an England side thirsting for revenge in a fixture first played in 1871.

They had their first try inside a minute and led 31-7 at the break.

Even by England’s own recent quick starts, a try in just 56 seconds from wing Jack Nowell was something else.

England captain Owen Farrell found full-back Elliot Daly and he in turn fed recalled centre Henry Slade before the midfielder released right wing Nowell, free in yards of space.

Nowell, recalled despite fellow wing Joe Cokanasiga’s man-of-the-match display against Italy last week, cut back on the inside through some weak tackles for a try fly-half Farrell converted.

England kicked a penalty for a close-range line-out that led to a try by Tom Curry.

Farrell duly added the conversion and England led by 14-0 with just nine minutes played.

Prop Kyle Sinckler barged over Scotland full-back Sean Maitland after good work by Manu Tuilagi, to set up another try for lock Joe Launchbury, with Farrell making it 21-0 before his penalty extended the lead.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs then broke clear and his cut-out delivery found Slade, with the centre in turn producing a delightful inside flick to Jonny May as the England flyer, who’d cleverly come in off the left wing, went over for another try.

Farrell maintained his faultless kicking record and England were 31-0 up — with only 30 minutes played.

– Scotland roar back –

Scotland captain Stuart McInally started the fightback when he charged down Farrell’s kick and ran in for some 40 metres for a try between the posts.

Fly-half Finn Russell added the easy conversion but England were still in command at 31-7.

Scotland, however, scored two well-worked tries early in the second half as England relaxed.

After good charges by forwards Hamish Watson and Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner released wing Darcy Graham for a well-worked score.

And they soon had their third try, No 8 Magnus Bradbury going in after scrum-half Ali Price chipped and regathered, with Russell — who could not convert Graham’s first try — on target.

But if England thought these were mere consolation scores they were wrong.

Fly-half Russell’s long pass found Maitland and he in turn found Graham for a fine try.

And on the hour Scotland, astonishingly, were level when Russell intercepted a loose pass from Farrell that saw him go in for a try between the posts converted by replacement Greig Laidlaw to make it 31-31.

Farrell, fortunate not to be yellow-carded for a late tackle on Graham, was replaced with 12 minutes but Laidlaw — whose uncle Roy played in the victorious 1983 side — missed the ensuing penalty.

Scotland, however, took the lead when, after England No 8 Billy Vunipola was turned over, centre Sam Johnson sprinted in for a try between the posts converted by Laidlaw only for England to hit back in an astounding climax.

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