Finn Russell slotted a penalty eight minutes from time to earn Scotland a narrow 20-17 win over England on Saturday as they took advantage of a penalty try and a yellow card for the visitors to edge a nerve-shredding Six Nations clash.
Scotland, 10-6 up at halftime, were 10-17 down when they were awarded a penalty try after England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie batted away a high cross-field pass. He was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
It proved the turning-point as with the one-man advantage, Scotland won a late penalty to snatch victory at Murrayfield and take the Calcutta Cup for a second successive year.
But Scotland were forced to hold out for a nerve-jangling success as England chased victory in the closing stages, denied by handling errors as mistakes crept in amid the fatigue.
Ben White scored Scotland’s other try while all England’s points came from flyhalf Marcus Smith, who scored a fine try and wasted little time in imposing his talent on the Six Nations.
Scrumhalf White made a dream debut, coming on as a head injury replacement for Ali Price after 12 minutes, and finishing off a sweeping counter-attack initiated by Stuart Hogg but set up by Darcy Graham’s jinking movement and burst of pace before White ran in for the game’s opening try.
Russell converted the score and added a long-range penalty on the stroke of halftime as a buoyant Scotland went into the break ahead.
But England reduced the score to 10-9 through a Smith penalty in the 48th minute — his third of the game — and took the lead five minutes later, with their forwards driving the ball upfield before Ben Youngs popped it up for Smith, running a perfect line, to crash over for the try.
Another Smith penalty extended the score to 17-10 but Scotland were back level when Cowan-Dickie’s folly handed them a lifeline.
He was trying to stop a high cross field kick landing in the arms of the unmarked Graham on the Scotland wing but his action in smacking the ball forward left referee Ben O’Keeffe with no option but to award a penalty try and send him off in a crucial period in which Scotland were in the ascendancy.
“I’m absolutely chuffed to bits,” said Scotland captain Stuart Hogg.
“We wanted to come out and put on a show, and show what we’re about. And at times we got it right, at times we were up against it. You know England are a fantastic side… but we’re absolutely delighted with that.”
Scotland play next at Wales on Saturday while England are away at Italy next Sunday.