Match Report

Scotland retain the Calcutta Cup with tense England victory

Ben White celebrates scoring their first try with teammates 5/2/2022
Finn Russell kicked a late penalty as Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup in a breathless 20-17 Guinness Six Nations victory against England.

Finn Russell kicked a late penalty as Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup in a breathless 20-17 Guinness Six Nations victory against England.

The visitors led by seven points with 17 minutes to go but a penalty try and Russell’s penalty cemented another famous Scotland win in international rugby’s oldest fixture.

England fly-half Marcus Smith scored all of England’s points, with four penalties and a try in a sparkling performance on his Guinness Six Nations debut.

But Scotland scored two of their own, the first through scrum-half Ben White in the first half and then the penalty try in the second – awarded when England’s Luke Cowan-Dickie was ruled to have deliberately knocked the ball on while defending a crossfield kick in the right corner.

England had a chance to salvage a draw with a penalty inside Scotland’s half but they instead opted to kick to the corner, and lost the resulting lineout.

The result marks the first time Scotland have won back-to-back matches against England since 1983-84.


On the eve of Round 1, the 2022 Championship was described as one the most wide open in recent times and part of that is down to the positive vibe in Scotland’s camp.

Last year, they recorded rare away wins in England and France and then beat Australia in the Autumn Nations Series, prompting talk they could compete for their first Championship title since 1999 this year.

In contrast, there have been questions surrounding England, who have injury concerns and a young team adjusting to the rigours of Guinness Six Nations rugby but Scotland arrived at BT Murrayfield chasing back-to-back wins against the auld enemy for the first time in 38 years – so knew this was never going to be easy.

England dominated territory and possession in the opening 10 minutes, passing crisply and pinning Scotland back with clever kicks in behind.

However, Scotland’s defence – drilled by coach Steve Tandy and roared on by a vocal BT Murrayfield crowd – kept the visitors out until the 17th minute when Smith converted his first penalty.

But if they were frustrated with just three points to show for 17 minutes of dominance, then England would been confused to find themselves behind just 60 seconds later.

White – on as a HIA replacement for scrum-half Ali Price just five minutes earlier – made it a Test debut to remember, as he dotted down the first try of the match following an incisive Darcy Graham break.

Scotland caught England cold with a lineout on halfway and took advantage of an under-matched defence as Graham drifted past a couple of defenders, put on the afterburners and flicked a pass inside to the supporting White.

The game settled back into its earlier pattern, with England pressing and probing Scotland’s defence and playing with incredible intensity. However, a penalty apiece for Smith and Russell ensured Scotland led 10-6 at the break.


England continued to press early in the second half and Smith trimmed the gap to just a point with his third penalty of the game from in front of the posts.

Scotland’s dogged defensive determination was admirable but England were relentless and soon scored their first try of the Championship.

Scotland changed their entire front row with 30 minutes left but England won an immediate penalty and kicked into the 22 for ideal field position.

They converted that into points, as a lively Smith took full advantage of Scotland’s tiring bodies by slipping through to score in the left corner for his third Test try.

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England kept their foot on the gas and nearly scored a second try minutes after, as Hogg scampered back to prevent a long kick downfield from going out of play near the Scotland line. The full-back got there just in time and flicked the ball back infield but had to pounce on it to stop a chasing Max Malins from grabbing the loose ball.

Smith – enjoying a Guinness Six Nations debut to remember of his own – departed after his fourth penalty of the match in the 62nd minute, as England took a seven-point lead.

However, that was wiped out in a split second. Russell, inside England’s 22, heaved a crossfield kick to the right corner, looking for Duhan van der Merwe, but the covering Cowan-Dickie was adjudged to have deliberately batted the ball out play and Scotland were awarded a penalty try.

Cowan-Dickie was sent to the sin-bin and Scotland took full advantage. Russell poked through a perfect grubber kick to pin England at their own five-metre line and, without a hooker on the field, replacement prop Joe Marler took the lineout but made a mess, the ball not delivered straight or the minimum five metres.

Scotland were awarded a five-metre scrum, which then turned into a penalty and Russell kicked the hosts into the lead with eight minutes to go.

Scotland looked set to extend that when they again had an advantage deep in England territory but the TMO caught a neck roll by Hamish Watson, allowing England to escape up to halfway.

The visitors then won a penalty inside Scotland’s half but opted against a shot at goal and decided to kick to the corner. That decision proved costly, though, as Scotland won the resulting lineout and held on to win.


Scotland put in a huge defensive effort to get over the line in Edinburgh and Matt Fagerson was central to their rearguard effort, making 16 tackles – more than any other player on the pitch – without missing a single one.

The 23-year-old also made six carries for 29 metres, averaging almost 5m per carry, while breaking two tackles and pinching a turnover in a complete performance. On a special evening for Scotland, Fagerson was everywhere for his side.