British & Irish Lions 2021

3 things we learned from England's win over Scotland

2020-02-09 12:17
Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones (Getty Images)

Edinburgh - England returned to winning ways with a first victory since their World Cup semi-final defeat of New Zealand by beating Scotland 13-6 on Saturday.

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Success at a rainswept Murrayfield, in a match where replacement prop Ellis Genge scored the only try of the game 10 minutes from time, saw England regain the Calcutta Cup and revive their 2020 Six Nations title hopes after a 24-17 loss away to France in the opening round.

It also condemned Scotland to a second straight defeat.

Below AFP Sport looks at three key points to emerge from this latest edition of rugby union's oldest international fixture:

Curry can still be great at No 8

Doubts may remain over England coach Eddie Jones' decision to deploy Curry at number eight in place of the injured Billy Vunipola.

But moving across the back-row has not impaired Curry's skill at the breakdown.

England forced 21 turnovers compared to Scotland's seven, a huge advantage in a tight game, with Curry and flanker Sam Underhill, dubbed the "kamikaze kids" by Jones, leading the way.

Rain a pain for Scotland

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg said on the eve of the match that it would be played in "classic Scottish weather" and that "we'll have a few tricks up our sleeve", yet it was England who coped better with the Edinburgh elements.

"We haven't had a game in the rain for years and it's hard for players," said Scotland coach Gregor Townsend.

Both sides made mistakes but it was Hogg's failure to deal with a through kick that saw him concede the five-metre scrum that led to England's try.

It may be too soon to say captaincy is affecting the fullback's form two games into his time as skipper, but this was another key error from Hogg after he dropped the ball over the goal-line with a try at his mercy during Scotland's 19-12 defeat by Ireland the previous week.

Russell row lingers on

Scotland fans could have been forgiven for wondering if Finn Russell might have produced a moment of magic to unlock England's defence.

But for the second match in a row the flyhalf was left out by Townsend, ostensibly as an ongoing punishment that saw him dropped from the side in Ireland after a late-night drinking session meant he missed training ahead of the Dublin defeat.

Russell orchestrated Scotland's 25-13 win over England at Murrayfield in 2018 and was the inspiration behind their stunning comeback from 31-0 down in a 38-38 draw at Twickenham last year.

That revival came after a half-time break where Russell told Townsend he had got his tactics wrong in front of the team.

"I actually had an argument with Gregor," Russell told ITV after the match. "I said to him: 'You're telling us to kick and when we kick, they just run it back and cut us open, and when we run it, they're just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back.' Second half, we just came out with nothing to lose, played our rugby."

Russell is not the only member of his family to have had a troubled relationship with the hierarchy of the Scottish Rugby Union.

His father, Keith, won a six-figure settlement at an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal after being sacked as the SRU's director of domestic rugby in 2017.

Scotland may well have lost on Saturday even with Finn Russell, but how much longer can they leave out a player of his proven talent?

Read more on:    england  |  scotland  |  six nations  |  rugby

 

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