England captain Owen Farrell was left ruing his side’s slow start as Scotland recorded their first win at Twickenham for 38 years with an 11-6 victory in their first match of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.
Duhan van der Merwe scored the only try of the game at Rugby HQ, with the powerful winger bouncing off defenders to touch down and cap off an incisive Scotland attacking move.
Six points apiece from the boots of Farrell and Finn Russell were the only other points scored in the Round 1 encounter, as the reigning champions start their campaign with defeat.
And Farrell believes his side were left playing catchup after being slow out the blocks in London.
“Credit to Scotland first and foremost,” the England skipper said. “The way that they played kept us out the game, they got a good start and a fair bit of momentum off of a few penalties from us and they got their try.
“They kept us out from then on and we didn’t seem like we could get a grip of it.
“We can talk about the attack or we can talk about the defence but it’s all joined up, we’re going to have to look at the game as a whole and look at the story of the game and see how we can get some momentum back quicker than we did today.”
Neither side were willing to give an inch at Twickenham, with points at a premium throughout both halves, but not for the want of trying.
Russell’s early penalty was all that either team had to show for their efforts until the half-hour mark, until Van der Merwe produced the bit of quality that separated the two sides.
Another high bomb from Russell was expertly recovered by Sean Maitland, giving the visitors excellent field position to start an attack, and within seconds the ball had been worked from right to left to give the recent Scotland debutant the room to manoeuvre.
And despite having a number of England defenders between himself and the try line, the Edinburgh man shrugged off several would-be tacklers to force his way over and give his side an 8-0 advantage.
Farrell then reduced the arrears with two penalties before the break, leaving the hosts trailing by just two points as they headed back into the dressing rooms.
But they could not get themselves on the scoreboard in the second half, with Russell’s early penalty the only points scored, as Scotland held their nerve to record a first victory away to their rivals since 1983.
And with 15 penalties conceded during the game, the hosts were unable to gather any momentum and put pressure on the Scottish try line, which is something that the England fly-half is keen to address in the coming days.
“It’s obviously something that we’ll look at, and it’s something we were aware of going into the game, but we compounded them today,” Farrell said.
“There were areas that we knew that they would target, there were areas that we knew we were going to have to be at our best, but we didn’t get a proper foothold in the game.”