Rugby: Scots aim to take down England after thumping Wales

Fly-half Finn Russell's excellent dead-ball kicking contributed 19 points to Scotland's comeback 29-13 win over Wales.
Fly-half Finn Russell's excellent dead-ball kicking contributed 19 points to Scotland's comeback 29-13 win over Wales.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

EDINBURGH • Scotland aim to keep rolling back the years by defeating England at Twickenham for the first time since 1983, after beating Wales for the first time in a decade.

Vern Cotter's side scored 20 unanswered points after the break at Murrayfield on Saturday as a 13-9 interval deficit was transformed into a 29-13 victory, their first against Wales since 2007.

Second-half tries by wings Tommy Seymour and Tim Visser, plus five penalties and two conversions by stand-off Finn Russell, mean the Scots on March 11 have the chance to complete a first Triple Crown since their Grand Slam in 1990.

Victory over England would also leave Scotland with a shot at a first Six Nations title since 1999 heading into the final weekend of the rugby tournament.

"We're on a roll," acknowledged Cotter, whose team achieved Scotland's first opening-round win in 11 years with a 27-22 home success against Ireland, before suffering a 16-22 loss to France in Paris.

"We know how hard Twickenham is," the Scotland coach said. "It may be the record game for England. There'll be a lot of things to play for, I think."

Should England beat Italy at home yesterday as expected, they would go into the Calcutta Cup contest with a chance of equalling New Zealand's world record of 18 consecutive wins.

"We believe we can beat England if we play like we did in the second half," said flanker John Barclay, the stand-in captain in place of the injured Greig Laidlaw.

Scotland finish the Championship with a home game against Italy on March 18.

Wales coach Rob Howley admitted his side's title hopes were over, with Saturday's reverse coming straight after a 21-16 defeat by England last time out.

"Our second-half performance wasn't good enough," he told the BBC.

"We lacked possession and when we got it, Scotland were hugely effective in the contact area, slowing up our ball or getting turnovers.

"Losing today, our Championship is over."

Ireland's hopes, however, are still alive after Johnny Sexton made a sparkling return to international duty, guiding Joe Schmidt's men to a 19-9 victory over France in Dublin on Saturday.

The 31-year-old fly-half, who had not played for five weeks because of a calf injury suffered on club duty, kicked 11 points in what was his first Test appearance since he faced the All Blacks in November.

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray scored the only try of the match, with Sexton converting that 30th minute effort in a tally that also included two penalties and a drop goal.

"Johnny really controlled the game well and he didn't shirk the physical stuff either," Schmidt told RTE.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2017, with the headline 'Scots aim to take down England after thumping Wales'. Print Edition | Subscribe