There was the alluring promise of hope within the air for England followers on the morning the 2021 Six Nations started.
Whispers of head coach Eddie Jones probably mixing issues up midway via the World Cup cycle. Maybe, finally, an finish to all that kicking seen within the autumn.
The solar shone on Twickenham on Saturday morning, climate that might enable the likes of England’s Jonny Might or perhaps even relative newcomer Ollie Lawrence to show followers’ hopes into actuality.
However darker clouds loomed. And as afternoon was night, the hope wore skinny, Scotland ending almost 4 many years with out a win in south west London as they secured a well-deserved 11-6 victory.
All week England had been promising higher issues to return in assault. Jamie George stated they needed to take groups aside, Eddie Jones used phrases like “adapt and evolve” and Henry Slade was excited by the prospect of getting his palms on the ball extra.
The primary drops of rain started to fall, now not very best situations however absolutely England would nonetheless get to have fun an opening-round win.
That they had not misplaced at residence to Scotland in 38 years, in any case.
However one thing was amiss on the Twickenham turf. As an alternative of scything runs and deft offloads, there was solely unwell self-discipline.
The penalty depend hit 4 after simply 5 minutes, giving Scotland fly-half Finn Russell the prospect to take the lead.
England’s autumnal model of play had been labelled by many as turgid. A minimum of they had been profitable then.
Repeated use of a repetitive kicking recreation didn’t make pleasing looking ahead to England followers, however their facet lifting the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup trophies did.
Because the final of the hope that an English facet extra akin to Fabien Galthie’s effervescent French flock would possibly present up was washed away within the drizzle, it was Scotland who shone.
Debutant Cameron Redpath was making the breaks that reverse quantity Lawrence – with whom he had performed for England Beneath-20s – wanted to cement his place in Jones’ squad.
Redpath had beforehand been known as into camp by the England head coach however the 21-year-old was by no means capped and so as an alternative selected the nation his father Bryan as soon as captained.
Lawrence, additionally 21, got here away from the match with 3m made and one carry. Redpath got here away with a barely extra respectable 40m and 4 carries – the one which obtained away, each from England’s defenders and Jones’ grasp.
The presence of British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland within the stands was an additional incentive for England’s stars, however it’s absolutely an inventory of Scottish names the New Zealander has taken away as he ponders his choice for July’s South Africa tour.
Might may do no unsuitable within the autumn, with a specific spotlight his spectacular solo strive in opposition to Eire, however confronted with a rampant and resilient Scotland, he may do little proper.
The wing made uncharacteristic errors beneath the excessive ball and on the alternative facet of the pitch Anthony Watson was struggling to make one thing occur too.
After referee Andrew Brace obtained annoyed by one penalty too many and despatched Billy Vunipola to the sin-bin, Scotland confirmed England the way it was accomplished.
That the guests’ solely strive was a staff affair appears becoming given it was their unified dedication that earned them the historic victory.
The ball handed via the palms of Russell, captain Stuart Hogg, Redpath and hooker George Turner earlier than Duhan van der Merwe ultimately wrestled it to floor throughout the tryline.
Some had urged this may very well be Scotland’s 12 months, although the opposition followers wouldn’t dare consider it earlier than kick-off.
The narrative may even have suited England, who had been virtually undone by the favourites tag once they needed to come from behind to beat a second-string France facet within the Autumn Nations Cup closing.
On Saturday Jones’ facet had been lacking 5 key forwards, vocal leaders on the pitch. Most of their Saracens contingent had not performed since early December and even Premiership gamers had been low on game-time after the cancellation of two rounds of European motion.
And, in fact, Twickenham was nonetheless empty.
Actually, with the match behind closed doorways due to the pandemic, after Van der Merwe’s strive it felt like a Scotland residence recreation such was the eagerness of the celebrations from the guests’ bench.
There are numerous excuses to be given, however probably the most logical rationalization for the result’s the Scots’ very good play.
Captain Owen Farrell – moved from centre to fly-half to create a extra muscular midfield with Lawrence and Slade – struggled to tug England’s strings however did handle two penalties.
A second-half turnaround appeared believable as Russell noticed yellow for a inconsiderate journey on Ben Youngs, but it surely turned out Scotland didn’t want him anyway as Hogg proved he had simply as many methods up his sleeve.
The guests’ stress was unrelenting to the tip and England’s replacements – together with fly-half George Ford – may do nothing to show the tide.
Jones’ facet have been pressured to accept defeat of their Six Nations opener for the second 12 months in a row.
Simply as in Paris final 12 months, they arrive away with a dropping bonus level that might be sufficient to safe the title additional down the road if they will flip issues round.
However England’s shock loss opens surprising doorways for nearly each different staff. Scotland’s three residence video games instantly seem to be a possibility and the stakes of Wales and Eire’s match on Sunday have been raised.
Any guarantees of an thrilling new English assault – like that proven by the French in opposition to admittedly considerably weaker Italian opponents – haven’t borne fruit.
As Saturday drew to an in depth there was nonetheless hope within the Twickenham air, but it surely didn’t belong to the English.