Six Nations: ‘Can’t believe it’ – Scotland break 128-year drought with win over England, Irish streak away from Wales

Duhan van der Merwe has scored a superb hat-trick as Scotland beat England 30-21 at Murrayfield to claim a fourth successive championship win in the fixture for the first time since 1896.

England, seeking a third Six Nations win of their own for the first time since 2020, led through a George Furbank try after five minutes and looked in control, only for Van der Merwe to strike twice and help the hosts to a somewhat flattering 17-13 halftime lead in Saturday’s fixture in Edinburgh.

The winger, who scored two superb tries in Scotland’s victory at Twickenham last season, collected a Finn Russell kick three minutes into the second half for his third, and two Russell penalties stretched Scotland’s lead to 30-16.

“I can’t believe it to be honest, but I have to thank the boys for giving me the opportunity,” Van der Merwe said after his side lifted the Calcutta Cup.

“We had a really good first phase, there was a lot of space open and I knew Finn was going to kick it to me. Lucky for me it bounced in my hands.”

England emptied their bench and replacement wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso grabbed their second try after 66 minutes.

But, unlike in their opening wins over Italy and Wales, the English could not complete the comeback as Scotland claimed their second victory of this year’s championship, having agonisingly lost to France last time out.

“You have to celebrate these moments, especially when you have a trophy in the dressing-room,” Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, who has overseen five wins and a draw in the last seven Calcutta Cup matches, said.

???? DUHAN VAN DER MERWE ????#GuinnessM6N #SCOENG @Scotlandteam

— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 24, 2024

“Duhan was great today. He saw the opportunities and went for it. 

“The first try was really special in that we didn’t have much ball, we weren’t in England’s half very often.”

The South Africa-born Van der Merwe became the first Scot to score a hat-trick against England in the Six Nations era. 

Zooming to 26 tries in his 37th Scotland Test, Van der Merwe is only one behind the Scotland record held by Stuart Hogg, who retired last year.

Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe celebrates scoring his third try. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

He finished the match in the sin bin, but received huge applause walking off after he was yellow-carded in the 79th minute for a dangerous tackle.

Van der Merwe’s finishing was complemented by captain Russell off the tee. He went six for six at the posts, and he’s perfect in the tournament with 15 out of 15.

George Ford tried to keep England close with 11 points, including a 35-metre drop goal. 

England coach Steve Borthwick relied on his regular line that his team were still learning.

“We have to give credit to Scotland, it was a very strong performance,” he said. “You saw a Scotland team that have been together a good number of years and are clear what they are trying to do against an England team that are trying to develop.”

Hat Trick for Duhan ????????????

Just perfection from @Scotlandteam ????#GuinnessM6N #SCOENG

— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 24, 2024

Red-hot Irish run riot over Wales

Grand slam-chasing Ireland have made it three bonus-point Six Nations wins from three against Wales at the Aviva Stadium, racking up their 18th successive home win in the process with a 31-7 victory.

The hosts dominated the first half and led by 17-0 at the break on Saturday thanks to tries from Dan Sheehan and James Lowe. 

A penalty try for Wales and a yellow card for Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne just after halftime threatened to make things interesting.

???? Frawley finds a way through for @Irishrugby ????#GuinnessM6N #IREWAL

— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 24, 2024

But Ireland mostly resumed control with 14 men, though a ragged second half remained competitive until Australian-born Ciaran Frawley marked his first Six Nations start with a debut try on 67 minutes.

Then Beirne added the bonus-point try at the death as Wales sank to their 10th defeat in their last 11 Six Nations games.

Ireland travel to England in two weeks before hoping to play for their second successive grand slam at home to Scotland on March 16. 

Wales have back-to-back home games against France and Italy, with the latter now a potential wooden spoon decider.

Coach Andy Farrell felt his Irish charges still had a “bit of fixing to do” if they wanted to keep their slam bid on course against England.

He was critical of his team’s passiveness in attack in the first half and failure to take advantage of their dominance in the scrum, but praised the huge impact of his forward-heavy pack in earning the bonus-point late on.

???? James Lowe knows his way to the try line ????#GuinnessM6N #IREWAL @IrishRugby

— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 24, 2024

“I suppose the bottom line is we got there in the end by being really tenacious and tough. We wanted to be better today but the opposition always has a say in that and Wales certainly did today,” Farrell said.

“We’ve a bit of fixing to do and hopefully we can get better for Twickenham.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland said his inexperienced team could take a huge amount from the performance, likening it to his time as a player with Waikato in New Zealand when they suffered big losses to Auckland before turning the tables on their rivals.

“I can’t question the effort of the players and just how hard they worked,” Gatland  said, saying the scoreline reflected the greater experience of the Irish side.

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