I’m going to have to start my write up of this game with a description of the journey, just to confirm that although my hair isn’t naturally blonde, my behaviour at times suggests it is! (using the archetypal style blonde). My good friend Monica and I have built a tradition of going to at least one 6 Nations game together a year; As Monica is Scottish by birth The Calcutta Cup was the perfect one to pick!
– The Wonderful – Flower of Scotland
I put myself in charge of buying train tickets and was thrilled to get a return fair from London to Edinburgh for £40 each! We set off for Euston to catch the the train, some of you will already know that reads wrong, I had no idea! There were no trains to Edinburgh on the board and the journeys listed all seemed to feature places like Birmingham, Manchester and Carlisle, the wrong side of the country – surely! Apparently you can travel to Edinburgh on the West Coast line, and that was what I’d booked, however I thought I’d booked the East Coast line so totally ignored the email telling me of problems on the line, because in my mind I wasn’t travelling through the west of the country!
I do believe that made me more than a bit stupid! After a conversation with a very rude customer services man we headed to the train to Carlisle – the weather had done for a bridge between Carlisle and Glasgow meaning we had to catch a coach to Edinburgh. An hours wait at Carlisle, a 2.5 hour journey on a grotty coach in the company of drunk over excited rugby fans and we arrived in Edinburgh, then ultimately North Berwick 11 hours after we’d left home! Good work by me!
After a good nights sleep it was game day – Monica and I headed into Edinburgh and went for a pre-match curry at The Omar Khayyam restaurant near Haymarket Station, it was a 2nd visit and the food was just as good as we’d remembered – I can highly recommend it!
We set off to Murrayfield with time to spare to make sure we got through security and to our seats in time. Oh, except there was literally NO security whatsoever – I walked through the turnstiles with a backpack on my back and wasn’t stopped at all. I find that quite shocking in today’s climate!
We had good seats, in the corner of the West Stand and settled hoping for a competitive, hard fought game. Scotland were going into the game with high expectations after their great run in the World Cup, being cheated of a semi-final place by a poor refereeing decision. England, on the back of a World Cup shock had lots to prove!
As is usual for me I belted out both anthems, well as much as I was able for the wonderful Flower of Scotland – such a good anthem! Almost as good as the Welsh anthem in Cardiff, the Scots did their team proud – would the team return the favour?
A lot has been written about selection choices for England, I was disappointed with a few of the names not featuring but was prepared to back those in the 23. As were the many singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot before 3 minutes were up – it was a little disappointing that the only response the home crowd could muster was a boo!
I don’t think I’m going to write a novel on the game, it was exciting being in the ground, but if I’m honest it wasn’t a thrill a minute. Both teams were rusty in attack, looking like strangers to each other at times. I think I’m inclined to use the words error strewn when thinking about the first half in particular.
The first real attempt at points came with a drop goal attempt from George Ford, he had plenty of time and seemed to be well set, but the ball went to the left of the posts. However the forwards kept hold of the ball as England attacked from a 5 metre scrum, Billy Vunipola carried the ball from the base before Danny Care passed to his Saracens team mate, George Kruis, who went low and powered over the line! Owen Farrell, with his devil eyes added the extras, making his Joining Jack sign as he ran back into the England half.
Chris Robshaw was penalised virtually from the kick off for failing to roll away, Greig Laidlaw – with no strange habits – kicked a great 3 points to close the gap to 4. The first half seemed to involve a fair few errors – Jonathan Joseph was penalised for blatantly coming in at the side on one such occasion. Scotland were penalised for not releasing as they attacked after England’s penalty! Laidlaw missed a penalty after Ford had been penalised for holding on, but he capitalised when Joe Launchbury was penalised for the same offence. The gap was narrowed to a solitary point as the teams went in at half time.
The penalties continued as the second half started with Scotland collapsing the maul, Farrell attempted to put his team further ahead, taking the kick to a cacophony of boo’s and whistling, he won’t have been put off, but missed all the same. Not an endearing feature at Murrayfield I have to say.
England did however extend their lead, after going through 8 phases of driving the ball forward Danny Care passed out to George Ford who found substitute Mako Vunipola on the end of his pass – Mako’s pass was a thing of beauty as he passed the ball behind him to Farrell, a short pass to Jack Nowell saw him run in at speed to score. Cue more boo’s as Swing Low Sweet Chariot rang out, and again they continued as Farrell lined up the conversion. Call me old fashioned, but I find that quite rude! Disappointingly the kick went wide.
As far as Scotland went through the game, Stuart Hogg in particular really impressed, he seemed to be everywhere! As promised I’m not going to linger as far as detail is concerned – both teams scored a penalty apiece to take the final score to a close Scotland 9 England 12. However I’d judge that Scotland had opportunities to strike out for the line, but the game management by Finn Russell was on the whole poor. They had overlaps several times but chose to take the ball into contact. The drought as far as Scotland scoring a try at Murrayfield against England continues.
For England Billy Vunipola impressed as his Man of The Match plaudit suggested, I’ve been dubious about Nowell in an England shirt but he caught my eye too as did Watson on the opposing wing. The moment of the game for me was the sublime pass by Mako, rather than what many seemed to want to concentrate on – a push by Farrell – you would have thought he’d taken an axe on the pitch – silly and unnecessary but not worthy of the resulting hysteria and hatred!
This was never going to be an expansive game of rugby, there was too much at stake for both teams, it felt like the best chance in years for Scotland to beat England at home, but it wasn’t to be. Onwards to a tough game in Cardiff for Scotland, England travel to Rome where I’m sure they won’t underestimate the opposition!
I’m going to list the ticket prices as a comparison for the 6 Nations. I’m also going to compare the booing levels as the opposition kicker tees up!
- Cost of Ticket £65.00