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England secure the silver lining as clouds gather over Scotland

Scotland 6 England 13

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England's Owen Farrell celebrates with the Calcutta Cup after the match. Photo: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

England's Owen Farrell celebrates with the Calcutta Cup after the match. Photo: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

REUTERS

England's Owen Farrell celebrates with the Calcutta Cup after the match. Photo: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

It was 28 degrees in Cape Town yesterday just as Stuart Hogg kicked proceedings off with the rain all but horizontal in Edinburgh. The possibility of South Africa joining the Six Nations is an idea that clearly polarises opinion but it can be said with certainty that it presents an altogether different proposition to this.

"Classic Scottish weather," said Hogg on the eve of the match. "We'll have a few tricks up our sleeve," he continued. For the second week running, he and his coach, Gregor Townsend, will lament an inability to make one of them count.

Perhaps that is a little unfair given that the foul weather ensured chances were at a considerable premium, but that only served to highlight their importance. England were able to take theirs in the second half, Scotland were not.

Add in the fact that once more their lineout went to pieces and these are testing times for Townsend. Their scrum was worse and their handling nowhere near as accurate as England's.

If there is any solace for Hogg it is that he was spared the humiliation of another handling howler directly costing his side after it was adjudged he did get the ball down shortly before England's decisive try. It will be of little consolation though, considering how soon afterwards Ellis Genge was celebrating.

Two years ago Scotland bossed the battle of the breakdown and as much as Finn Russell's wonder pass contributed to their victory, it was the prowess of John Barclay and Hamish Watson on the floor that proved decisive. Back then England didn't have a single openside on the pitch if we are to take Eddie Jones's word that Chris Robshaw is not one.

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England's Maro Itoje in action. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

England's Maro Itoje in action. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

Action Images via Reuters

Two years on he picked three and it had the desired effect. Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Lewis Ludlam made their presence felt in that regard - Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson and the returning Magnus Bradbury and Jamie Ritchie were far less conspicuous than Townsend will have wanted.

That was about the sum total of conclusions to be drawn from a first half utterly devoid of any rhythm and the second was just as shapeless.

Scotland kicked off with the wind at their backs and seemed a little too eager to make the most of it; England only too happy to frustrate their opponents and the referee, Pascal Gaüzère, could be heard on more that one occasion telling them to get on with it.

Certainly the hosts were up for it. Flower Of Scotland before the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield will always stir the senses and Sam Johnson was intent on backing his words that no one likes England, thumping into Jonny May following Hogg's kick-off.

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England's Owen Farrell kicks a conversion. Photo: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

England's Owen Farrell kicks a conversion. Photo: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

REUTERS

If there was any subsequent pattern to the match it was that England were all too happy to kick the ball, often hanging it up in the air, while Scotland seemed a touch unsure whether to run it back or play to the conditions. That was a conflict they struggled to resolve all match.

Ali Price was his usual busy self, always looking to snipe, to create half openings for his willing forwards or to chip over the top. He was busy at the start of the second half too, charged down by May but doing well to collect a swirling high kick from Ford.

From there, Hastings launched his own kick into the skies and Ford could not gather. Scotland would have been happy enough with the scrum but Rory Sutherland had other ideas, bullocking up the middle of the pitch. It led to a Scotland penalty, another kick to the corner and 14 phases with the hosts battering away.

Eventually it also led to a penalty from Hastings, bringing the scores level at 3-3 but on those 14 phases you could not help but feel the match swung. Had the England dam burst it would have been hard to see a way back for Eddie Jones's side.

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England's Elliot Daly in action. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

England's Elliot Daly in action. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

Action Images via Reuters

Not long after Scotland had another go but after 12 phases Kyle Sinckler made the decisive turnover and Scotland's line-out problems meant they were unable to capitalise on England's propensity to kick the ball out on the full.

The conditions then made sure that after Genge's try there was no way back for the home side. It may have been classic Scottish weather but for all their endeavour, you still sense that this is a team more suited to the South African sun.

Scorers - Scotland: Hastings 2 pens. England: Genge try; Farrell con, 2 pens.

Scotland: S Hogg, S Maitland, H Jones (C Harris 56), S Johnson, B Kinghorn, A Hastings, A Price, M Bradbury, H Watson, J Ritchie, J Gray, Scott Cummings (B Toolish 56), Z Fagerson (A Dell 60), F Brown (S McInally 54), R Sutherland (S Berghan 60).

England: G Furbank, J May, J Joseph, O Farrell, E Daly, G Ford, W Heinz (B Youngs 61), T Curry, S Underhill, L Ludlam (C Lawes 54), G Kruis (J Launchbury 77), M Itoje, K Sinckler, J George, M Vunipola (E Genge 57).

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Scotland's Adam Hastings in action with England's George Ford and Sam Underhill. Photo: Lee Smith/     Action Images via Reuters

Scotland's Adam Hastings in action with England's George Ford and Sam Underhill. Photo: Lee Smith/ Action Images via Reuters

Action Images via Reuters

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France).

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