Steve Borthwick: England shouldn’t have let lead slip away | Gregor Townsend: Duhan der Merwe try ‘like Jonah Lomu Rugby’ | Rugby Union News
New England head coach Steve Borthwick was denied a win in his first match since succeeding Eddie Jones as they were beaten 29-23 by Scotland at Twickenham; Scotland boss Gregor Townsend heaped praise on two-try hero Duhan van der Merwe, who scored a stunning solo effort
By Marc Bazeley at Twickenham Stadium
Last Updated: 04/02/23 10:38pm
Steve Borthwick was left to rue a result which slipped through England’s grasp after they were beaten 29-23 by Scotland in their opening match of this year’s Six Nations.
The hosts fought back from going 12-7 down to lead by a point at half-time at Twickenham thanks to Max Malins’ first two tries in an England shirt and then were 20-12 up early in the second half on the back of Ellis Genge’s converted score.
But Ben White’s sniping run to finish and Duhan van der Merwe’s second try to go with a stunning first-half score denied Borthwick victory in his first match since succeeding Eddie Jones as England head coach, as well as making it three straight Calcutta Cup successes in a row for Scotland.
“To go in at half-time in the position we were in was an immense credit to the players and at 20-12 up and in control of the game, we shouldn’t be letting that get away from us and we did,” Borthwick said.
“We’ll have a look at it, and I think that’s part of the growth of the team because you’ve got to go through some pain.
“You don’t want to, but there was certainly enough there on that pitch that said I can see some aspects we’re working on, and I can see some things we need to improve.
“We got ourselves in a position to win that game and we didn’t, and we’ll look at that to make sure we are better going forward.”
Borthwick’s side are back on home turf next Sunday when they face Italy and will be widely expected to bounce back against the Azzurri, who have never beaten England in any of the previous editions of the Six Nations.
Despite being on the losing team against Scotland for the third year running, England captain Owen Farrell took positives from the performance and believes the team showed plenty of signs of moving in the right direction after a difficult Autumn Nations Series which ultimately cost Jones his job.
“We’re at the start of our journey at the minute,” Farrell said. “Over the last 11 days together we feel like there has been some growth, and we feel like there has been some growth in this performance.
“Ultimately, we said we’d look at ourselves after this game and want to get better regardless of the result and that’s still the case.
“There is some stuff we can be proud of, and a lot of credit has to go to Scotland in the way they played, but it allows us to look at ourselves really well and I guess there was always going to be some errors coming from our first game together in a new system.
“But I know these boys will work hard to make sure they fix them.”
Townsend: Van der Merwe try ‘like Jonah Lomu Rugby’
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was full of praise for two-try hero Van der Merwe, who put behind recent injuries woes to play a starring role in the win over England.
It was his converted try five minutes from time which ultimately put the seal on the win for the visitors, but the highlight-reel moment came in the first half when the 27-year-old took the ball in his own half and left six England defenders trailing in his wake to score.
Indeed, Townsend compared the Edinburgh winger’s finish to being like something from a computer game which fans of a certain vintage will recall.
“It was incredible, wasn’t it?” Townsend said. “It reminded me of when you played ‘Jonah Lomu Rugby’ and suddenly one person can go quicker.
“Duhan hasn’t had much rugby over the last few weeks. He’s trained really well with us, but to play like he did on the back of an injury and not playing for Edinburgh is a real testament as to how he’s got himself in this position mentally and physically.
“That first try was amazing and one try that gets the Scotland supporters going crazy in the stand and silences everyone else because you don’t see tries like that very often.”
Scotland’s victory meant it was the first time since 1972 they had claimed the Calcutta Cup for three years in a row, and they now prepare to host Wales at Murrayfield.
Skipper Jamie Ritchie is determined to build on this result and ensure they do not suffer a backlash from Wales, who were beaten 34-10 by Ireland in Cardiff earlier in the day.
“We’re delighted to win and retain the Calcutta Cup, but we’ve been in this position before and not backed it up.
“For us, we’ll enjoy each other’s company and enjoy this victory, but come Monday we’re starting again and ready to go.”