Match Report - vd Merwe double in memorable win

Match Report - vd Merwe double in memorable win

Duhan van der Merwe scored one of the great Twickenham tries and then added a match-winner as Scotland claimed a stunning 29-23 Calcutta Cup victory over England.

Van der Merwe was the Championship’s top try-scorer in 2021, including a try at Twickenham, but he may never score a better one than his first this time. Taking the ball 60 metres from the England line, he set off and skipped past five would-be tacklers, on his way over for a sensational solo score.

In Steve Borthwick’s first game in charge of England, since succeeding his mentor Eddie Jones, England scored three tries and led by eight points early in the second half. However Van der Merwe’s second try five minutes from time clinched a third successive Scottish win over England, a first since 1972.

What is more, they clinched a bonus-point success, with Scotland fans able to revel in the victory, having been denied the opportunity when they ended a 38-year wait for a win here two years ago.


The teams spent the first ten minutes or so feeling each other out, England dominating territory without really threatening a try, as Scotland’s defence held firm.

The visitors, by contrast, showed their clinical side, scoring from their first incursion into the England 22. From an attacking lineout just outside, George Turner threw over the top to Jamie Ritchie, who in turn fed Finn Russell. The fly-half drifted before sending Huw Jones through a gap with Kyle Steyn on his shoulder. England dealt with the first wave but then went off their feet and with penalty advantage, Sione Tuipulotu put in a beautiful grubber that Jones was first to for the opening try.

Russell converted but England hit back midway through the half, in opportunistic fashion. Malins’ volley from a Russell clearance evaded everyone and the winger got there fastest to nudge the ball on again. A quick recycle saw Ollie Chessum get close to the line and with Scotland’s defence narrow, Marcus Smith picked out Malins with a cross-kick to finish the move he had started. Farrell missed the conversion from out wide.


Scotland had scored on their first opportunity, but a second venture into the England 22 yielded nothing when Russell knocked on as he tried to sneak through a gap. It did not matter though, Jack van Poortvliet cleared deep but failed to find touch and from there Van der Merwe produced some magic to race over from 60 metres out. Russell missed a kickable conversion but Scotland led 12-5.

England needed something before half-time and they got it with their best passage of the game. Showing real purpose, they built through the phases, constantly getting the Scotland defence on the back foot as Farrell seized the initiative. It was then the forwards who made the difference, Chessum and Ellis Genge combining to put Freddie Steward into space. He released Lewis Ludlam immediately and the flanker drew his man to put Malins in for his second.

Farrell was off-target once more with the conversion, but finally found his range just before half-time. With a penalty on their own 22, England could have just kicked the ball out, but they went for a lineout on halfway, made big ground down the left, Chessum again at the heart of it, and eventually earned a penalty that Farrell slotted to make it 13-12 at the break.

And England enjoyed a fine start to the second half, winning a penalty at scrum-time that they were able to convert into a try a couple of minutes later. Genge, a willing carrier throughout, was at the heart of it, denied on one charge for the line, but diving over almost untouched two phases later as Scotland ran out of numbers. Farrell converted and all of a sudden, it was a relatively comfortable 20-12 on the scoreboard.

It was not, and the two-score lead did not last long, White finishing brilliantly after Dombrandt had tried to go in for a turnover, the scrum-half slipping through the tackle of Ben Curry before stepping Steward to get over. Russell converted and there was a point in it once again.

Scotland almost scored their bonus-point try on the hour with a stunning counter-attack. Steyn and Stuart Hogg combined as they raced away down the right, but after a first interchange of passes, Hogg’s second effort was knocked on by his winger just as Scotland looked to have the numbers to get over. To add insult to injury, England earned a penalty from the resultant scrum, Dan Cole making an impression on his first appearance at Test level since the 2019 World Cup final.

Trailing by four, Scotland got back into the England 22 and came close once more, Steyn not quite quick enough to get to Russell’s cross-kick with the home defence struggling to reach him. Maro Itoje had strayed offside though, allowing Russell to make it 23-22 with 12 minutes to go.

The visitors were knocking on the door though, and eventually they managed to open it, with Steyn this time showing his pace to get away from Ben Youngs on the right wing. When the ball was shifted back left, Van der Merwe was put away, and while Smith did his best to slow him, the winger stepped inside both of England’s playmakers and held off Malins to get the ball down.

Russell converted and despite a last England effort, they were turned over in the Scotland 22 with the Scots able to rejoice a dream start to the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

Guinness Six Nations Player of the Match

Sione Tuipulotu had a strong case, but after his stunning individual try, as well as winning the game late on, it had to be Duhan van der Merwe. His combination of pace and size is rare, even in international rugby, and a lot of England defenders found out just how tough he is to stop. Give him any space, and Van der Merwe is absolutely lethal.

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