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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 26 February, 2020

England salvage dramatic late draw after stunning Scotland comeback

Gregor Townsend’s side scored six tries in the second half — but were denied a famous win at the death.

England 38

Scotland 38

SCOTLAND STAGED ONE of the most remarkable comebacks in Six Nations history as they overhauled a 24-point half-time deficit to stun England at Twickenham, before the hosts salvaged a last-gasp draw in a dramatic end game. 

Sam Johnson’s try with five minutes left on the clock — Scotland’s sixth of the second period — appeared to hand Gregor Townsend’s men a famous win in London, but England showed huge character to draw level through George Ford’s seven-pointer with the clock in the red. 

Sam Johnson celebrates scoring a try to take the lead Scotland celebrate Johnson's try. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The final match of this year’s championship appeared to be heading England’s way as they surged into a 31-0 lead.

Scotland, however, scored six tries, Darcy Graham crossing twice, in a run of 38 unanswered points to be within minutes of a first Twickenham triumph since 1983.

But with 80 minutes played, England kicked a penalty to touch for an attacking lineout and, eventually, in the third minute of extra time, replacement out-half Ford went over for a try he converted to tie the scores with the last kick of the game.

Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup by virtue of their 25-13 win over England at Murrayfield last year. 

There might well have been fears that this match could have been considered a non-event after Wales wrapped up the Six Nations Grand Slam before kick-off, but it proved anything but.

England, who came into the weekend still in the running for the championship, quickly put their disappointment behind them with four tries without reply to take complete control.

England’s Jack Nowell — selected ahead of Joe Cokanasiga — danced inside from the right past four men to touch down with a little over a minute gone and there was no let up in that early pace.

Tom Curry profited on a smart set-piece as a low lineout caught Scotland short, before Kyle Sinckler charged through and, with the visitors unable to regroup, Joe Launchbury went over.

Ben Youngs was denied try number four as he knocked Nowell’s kick forward, but Owen Farrell converted a penalty and Henry Slade’s cute reverse pass then sent Jonny May through to score. 

Jonny Gray dejected after the game ends in a draw Dejection for Jonny Gray. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A blocked Farrell kick and mistimed May tackle allowed Stuart McInally to get Scotland off the mark on the break and England were slowed further by half-time.

Scotland’s belated first flowing move ended with Darcy Graham dodging a pair of challenges to lunge over in the left corner and then Ali Price teed up Magnus Bradbury for another quick try.

The visitors were rampant and Graham got his second with another free-flowing score, before the deficit was wiped out completely when Finn Russell picked off Farrell’s pass to cross, with Greig Laidlaw kicking the extras.

Then came Johnson’s moment as the visitors bore a hole in England’s defence and he was left free, able to dodge despairing challenges and go under the posts for what looked to be the winner.

But England finally awoke from their slumber and after a period of extended pressure, Ford worked a gap through the centre and lunged for the line, converting his own try to seal the highest-scoring draw in international rugby history.  

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Ryan Bailey

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