25 Feb 2018

Scotland upset England in Six Nations

9:10 am on 25 February 2018

Scotland produced a blistering display of attacking rugby to hand Eddie Jones just his second defeat as England head coach and end the visitors' Grand Slam aspirations with a 25-13 Six Nations victory at Murrayfield.

Scotland's Huw Jones breaks free against England.

Scotland's Huw Jones breaks free against England. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Led by the brilliance of Huw Jones, who scored a brace of tries, and Finn Russell - criticised before the game but at the heart of Scotland's best play - the hosts opened up a 16-point halftime lead, with Sean Maitland also touching down.

England improved after the break with a converted Owen Farrell try, but Sam Underhill was shown a yellow card to inhibit England's hopes as the hosts expertly navigated the final 35 minutes to register a famous victory.

With Ireland earlier securing a bonus point win against Wales, their five-point lead over England in the standings puts them in a strong position to reclaim the title they last won in 2015.

Following a pre-game scuffle in the tunnel, the opening exchanges were full-blooded but dominated by Scotland who showed plenty of attacking intent which yielded a penalty, kicked by Greig Laidlaw for a 3-0 lead.

Buoyed by a vociferous Murrayfield crowd, the hosts consistently stretched the visitors' defence and Jones collected a deft Russell grubber kick to dive over next to the posts to score Scotland's first home try against England since 2004.

Farrell kept the visitors in touch with two penalties, but their attack was lethargic and in defence they simply could not contain Scotland with Russell and Jones combining to create the field position for Maitland to dive over in the corner.

At 15-6 down, a series of attacking penalties hampered England and their indiscipline was compounded shortly before halftime when Jones burst through and held off Mike Brown and Anthony Watson to score.

England's response after the break was emphatic with Farrell cutting a superb line through the Scottish defence to reduce the deficit to nine points in the 44th minute.

Farrell had a second try ruled out following a knock on in the build-up but any hopes of closing the gap further were dealt a major blow when Underhill was shown yellow for a dangerous tackle in the 66th minute.

Russell's resulting penalty gave Scotland a 12-point lead which they defended superbly to thwart England's attacking raids and seal a stunning victory.

Ireland maintained their perfect start but were made to sweat for it in a frantic 37-27 victory over Wales in Dublin.

Trailing by eight points at one stage in a first half they otherwise utterly dominated, Ireland led by two scores midway through the second before weathering a Welsh comeback stopped in its tracks by an intercepted Jacob Stockdale try at the death.

"We had to sweat to survive that, it was a really tough game. It's a credit to this team, that's two dramatic finishes," Ireland centre Chris Farrell, man of the match in his Six Nations debut, said in a pitchside interview.

After starting the tournament hampered by injuries, Wales welcomed back three British and Irish Lions while Ireland lost three of their own. However, it was the hosts who were left to rue a wasteful opening 20 minutes.

Johnny Sexton uncharacteristically missed three early kicks at goal, the first a simple chance to trade early penalties with Leigh Halfpenny, although he made up for it with a pinpoint, long skip pass that sent Stockdale in for the opening try.

The Ireland flyhalf failed to land the conversion and missed another straightforward penalty, the third Wales conceded inside the first 13 minutes having given away just two in the entirety of their defeat to England.

Ireland's Bundee Aki scores against Wales.

Ireland's Bundee Aki scores against Wales. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ireland were also lacking discipline and giving away turnovers, the second in a matter of minutes allowing Gareth Davies to sprint in and Halfpenny, having far fewer issues with his boot, soon extended the advantage to eight points.

However Ireland quickly regrouped, first handing Sexton a chance to finally get on the board before pummelling the Welsh defence for Bundee Aki to score and end a wild half in which they turned 76 percent of possession into just a two-point lead.

Joe Schmidt's side were intent not to make the same mistake twice and looked like they might have put the game out of sight inside the first 13 minutes of the second half.

Their ability to effortlessly change the point of attack was dizzying for the visitors' defence as smart breaks from Keith Earls and Rob Kearney, followed by more intense forward pressure put flanker Dan Leavy in for his first Six Nations try.

Firmly camped inside the Welsh half, it was only a matter of time before the bonus point try came and prop Cian Healy duly obliged.

But Wales were not done and a converted Aaron Shingler try - their first sniff at the Irish line in the second period - cut the deficit to a one-score game.

Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray, taking over kicking duties from a limping Sexton, appeared to have settled it again with a penalty five minutes from time but another try from Steff Evans frayed some Irish nerves, settled by Stockdale's interception.

- Reuters