Scotland (6/1 – Tournament Outright) began their Six Nations campaign with a hard-fought 20-17 win over England at a raucous Murrayfield to retain the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 1984.
A penalty try brought the Scots level at 17-17 late on in Edinburgh when Luke Cowan-Dickie was penalised for deliberately slapping a Finn Russell cross-kick into touch, and Gregor Townsend’s (pictured) men edged to victory thereafter thanks to a late Russell penalty.
Debutant Ben White had crossed to put the hosts in front early on, but Marcus Smith’s try and four Smith penalties had seemingly put England in control as Eddie Jones’ side dominated territory and possession to carve out a seven-point lead in the second half before the late drama.
Matt Fagerson was named Player of the Match and admitted Scotland had been building for this moment as England, who are 5/1 to recover and go on to win the Six Nations, were left to rue their mistakes.
Fagerson told BBC Sport: “It’s pretty crazy. We’ve been building as a squad for two years, and this is the culmination of it all. It just shows the heart of the boys to bring it home. The crowd were a huge part of that.”
Head coach Gregor Townsend added: “It was tough conditions, especially in the second half, but we’re really proud of the victory. We know we can improve and will need to improve if we want to win more games and more trophies.”
Meanwhile, Wales (50/1 – Six Nations Outright) captain Dan Biggar admitted the reigning Six Nations champions were way off it as their defence began earlier in the day with a poor display and deserved defeat to Ireland in Dublin.
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Ireland (15/8 – Tournament Outright) ran out 29-7 winners at the Aviva Stadium with Bundee Aki scoring after just three minutes. It was a one-sided affair and the home side were 17-0 up when Andrew Conway added a second try just after half-time before he repeated the trick soon after with Josh Adams sin-binned. Garry Ringrose’s effort secured a bonus point while Wales belatedly came to life with a consolation try from Taine Basham.
A disappointed Biggar said afterwards: “We didn’t get much right but credit to Ireland, they played the conditions well and strangled us physically.
“It will be a tough watch back on Monday because the big thing we wanted to focus on this week was physicality and we didn’t get that right.
“Ireland dominated that and we couldn’t get on the front foot. Obviously missing the big players is an issue but we were missing the physicality and discipline.”
Wales host Scotland in Cardiff in their second game next Saturday.
Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton, on the other hand, said his side can now build on their fine opening win as they turn their attention to taking on France in Paris next weekend.
He told ITV: “Against the reigning champions to come away with five points, I would have snapped your hand off.
“It’s never going to be perfect in the first game. We’ve got lots to improve but it’s great to do that after a win. We’ve got everything to play for and we can build momentum now.
“We’re going to have to be at our best to win in Paris [next week].”
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