Duhan van der Merwe hat-trick sinks visitors at Murrayfield

February 25, 2024 6:59 am

[ Source : BBC ]

Duhan van der Merwe became the first Scotland player to score a Calcutta Cup hat-trick as the hosts racked up a fourth successive Six Nations victory over England at Murrayfield.

The powerful winger scored two incredible tries at Twickenham last year and went one better this time.

George Furbank and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso enjoyed their first England tries, but Van der Merwe stole the show with his clinical prowess, while Finn Russell was perfect with the boot to keep Scotland out of reach in a largely scruffy contest.

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Both teams sit on two wins from three, with Scotland away to Italy next and England at home to unbeaten defending champions Ireland.

Queen Victoria was the monarch when Scotland last managed four wins in a row against England in this competition in 1896.

And Gregor Townsend’s record as head coach against England now stands at five wins and a draw from seven meetings.

With those stats, Scotland were slight favourites against opponents who had edged out Italy and Wales, but the home crowd were quiet after 15 minutes, with their team trailing 10-0 and making error after error.

Then Van der Merwe burst into life to light up this 130th edition of the Calcutta Cup.

Centres Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones combined, with the winger gathering a smart offload to barge over.

Soon after, he scorched down the left flank as Jones seized on a Furbank fumble and no one could get near him.

“Outlandish, first-class brilliance,” remarked BBC pundit Ugo Monye on Van der Merwe as Scotland went into the interval 17-13 up, having made just three visits to the 22.

Early in the second half, Scotland was under pressure from a charged down kick but a jinking break from Cam Redpath – on for the injured Tuipulotu – opened up the over-committed visitors and guess who was on hand to gather a well-placed punt from Russell?

The bounce was perfect and a gleeful Van der Merwe did not have to break stride to gather and streak over the line.

Russell knocked over his third penalty to go with his three conversions and Scotland was in control.

Player-of-the-match Van der Merwe was stony-faced as he picked up a late yellow card for a reckless tackle but he was soon smiling broadly again, along with the rest of his team-mates.

England lose their cool as mistakes creep in
English heads will be spinning after the masterclass in finishing from Van der Merwe.

Jamie George started just over a week after the death of his mother and the captain led by example as the fired-up visitors took an early grip on the game.

Looking to open with three wins for the first time since 2017, they were rewarded for their aggressive approach when Furbank – a surprise choice at full-back – finished off a slick move, with Scotland caught on their heels from a wobbly scrum.

Following Van der Merwe’s first-half bolts out of the blue, George Ford stayed calm to reduce the arrears with a smart drop-goal, but too many of his colleagues lost composure chasing the game.

And Scotland were rarely troubled until Feyi-Waboso found a gap late on.

Townsend enjoys ‘massive win’ – reaction
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend: “Duhan van der Merwe was great today. He saw the opportunities and went for it.

“The win is massive. It is a one-off, we were playing for the trophy today and to us, that is very important.

“Now we can look to the next two games and see how we can improve.

“To show that resilience to come back and then score 30 points shows what this team is capable of. There is improvement to do and we want to get to the final week with an opportunity to still be in the championship.”

England head coach Steve Borthwick: “I thought the guys started well but the second quarter is where our errors went up and Scotland was able to score too easily, you can’t let them do that.

“Today was not good enough, we wanted to win and we didn’t. If you look at the results, we have eight wins out of the last nine but we still wanted to win today.

“Now we have two weeks to build to Ireland and we will make sure we are better there.”