England could not dodge the storm but they averted the crisis. They fled Typhoon Hagibis in Japan but here they met Storm Ciara head on and came through it.
There was more than just a potential Six Nations title on the line for England. Doubts had been voiced about the players, questions had been asked about Eddie Jones’ future and the Calcutta Cup was in danger of becoming a Scottish heirloom.
Atrocious weather conditions made this one of the worst fixtures in recent years, but England could not care less as they celebrated in a pile of soggy white jerseys on the final whistle.
Ellis Genge powers through the Scotland defence and touches the ball down for England’s match-winning try
England’s Owen Farrell missed an unusual number of his kicks in the game thanks to the awful conditions at Murrayfield
However, Farrell put the ball between the posts to put the game beyond doubt with a few minutes to go in the match
Ellis Genge snatched the victory with a close-range try in the 70th and had to be held back by team-mates as the war-of-words transcended onto the pitch.
Scotland: Hogg, Maitland, Jones, Johnson, Kinghorn, Hastings, Price, Sutherland, Brown, Fagerson, Cummings, Gray, Ritchie, Watson, Bradbury
Penalties: Hastings (2)
England: Furbank, May, Joseph, Farrell, Daly, Ford, Heinz, Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Ludlam, Underhill, Curry
Tries: Genge Cons: Farrell
Penalties: Farrell (2)
Storm Ciara arrived shortly kick off. Plastic raincoats were handed out to those in the front rows. The tuba player hit a bum note during England’s national anthem as his sheet music caught the wind and flew across the pitch. And in the foreground, Owen Farrell and Co jumped on the spot as they realised it was probably a mistake to ditch their tracksuits bottoms early on.
England knew what was coming the moment they stepped off the bus. They were greeted by bagpipes, boos and hand gestures from kilted fans hanging from the gantry. One member of the mob threw a plastic beer bottle towards Eddie Jones but missed and hit his right-hand man, Neil Craig, on the head. Welcome to Murrayfield.
When Jonny May was clobbered as he claimed the kick-off, it felt like England could be in for a long 40 minutes with the wind in their faces. But Scotland were naïve. Their decision making was poor and their execution was just as bad.
Scotland and England traded kicks back and forth during an evening in which handling errors were plentiful
England’s Owen Farrell struggled with the conditions with his kicks, on what was a rainy and windy day in Edinburgh
They coughed up ball at the lineout, missed kicks to touch and fumbled high balls that swirled high in the Edinburgh night sky. They were penalised at the breakdown England’s turnover specialists – Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Lewis Ludlam – attacked the contact zone.
Throughout the first half, England decided that the best tactic was to give the ball to Scotland. It took a few minutes to gauge the conditions. Farrell’s early high ball went backwards in the wind, while George Ford’s clearance kick had the trajectory of a banana.
They drilled low kicks back into the corners and waited for the hosts to make mistakes. Scoring opportunities were few and far between but England went for points at every opportunity – although Farrell managed to convert just one of his three penalties in the first half. He was greeted by a chorus of boos every time he brought out his kicking tee and at one point the stadium announcer even issued the home crowd a ticking off about a lack of respect.
There were plenty of kicks in the game, 36 in the first half alone, as both teams tried to force mistakes and gain territory
Scotland, in contrast, backed their attacking lineout. They turned down shots at goal and kicked for the corners. But Fraser Brown’s throws went wayward in the wind and England’s maul defence held strong. Ali Price did his best to snipe around the fringes but was swamped by defenders, while the stodgy turf did not allow Stuart Hogg to unleash his dazzling footwork. Despite having a 30 mile per hour wind behind them, Scotland failed to register a single point in the first half. The 0-3 scoreline after 40 minutes was the joint lowest in Six Nations history.
It seemed inevitable that England would turn the screw in the second half, but it did not really happen. After the break, then English kicks lacked accuracy, Ford, Willi Heinz and Elliot Daly kicked the ball out on the full, time after time. Jones grew frustrated in his coaching box, barking orders at his touchline messengers through his walkie talkie. ‘For f*** sake,’ he shouted.
Prop Rory Sutherland caught Ford and Farrell by surprise when he threw a dummy at the fringe of the ruck, before charging into English territory. Huw Jones continued the momentum and, after finally stringing together a set of phases, Adam Hastings levelled the score with a penalty.
The England players celebrate winning a penalty after a mistake by Scotland during the first half of the Six Nations match
Line outs were equally affected by the conditions, with both teams failing to throw it straight on a number of occasions
Hogg danced out of his own 22 with a moment of magic but the hosts had little to show for it.
There had been much talk about England’s bomb squad – the six-two split of forwards and backs on the bench – and Jones gradually sent on the likes Courtney Lawes, Genge and Ben Earl.
The bomb squad has been one of Matt Proudfoot’s innovations from South Africa. The forwards are still getting used to Proudfoot’s emotive and empowering man management – in contrast to the obsessive attention-to-detail of Steve Borthwick – but they won an immediate penalty at the scrum. Farrell had a chance to kick his side back in front but, for the third time, he was off target.
The fans had to wrap up warm in the stands, but the players on the pitch had to brace against the weather head on
The England players jog off the pitch at half time with a narrow lead over Scotland in their Six Nations match at Murrayfield
With 69 minutes on the clock, a moment of madness from Hogg almost cost his team a try. Attempting to usher a kick over his own try line to safety, the ball bounced off his chin and almost squirted into the hands of Farrell who thought he had scored. His blushes were saved by the TMO, who claimed there had been downward pressure, yet England had the territory.
They reset with a 5m scrum and, after a crash ball, Genge was on hand to power over on the next phase. England finally had a seven-point cushion, which Owen Farrell turned into 10 points with another penalty.
All Scotland had to show was another late penalty from Hastings, but it was too little too late. The Calcutta Cup belonged to England – and it was a bonus that Farrell made his way up the steps to collect it without slipping over.
Chances to score were few and far between throughout the match, as kicks and resulting line outs were prevalent
Scotland kick the ball away again, as they did well in metres gained but didn’t have much to show for it on the scoreboard
Genge gets the ball over the line after England had earned a scrum from the five metre line with only 10 minutes to go