Ellis Genge’s first Guinness Six Nations try proved decisive as England regained the Calcutta Cup for the first time in three years with a narrow victory away at Scotland.
The replacement prop powered over with ten minutes to go at BT Murrayfield for the only try of a fascinating game, in which strong winds played a massive part.
Owen Farrell kicked two penalties for England, although he also missed three others, to help England secure their first win of the 2020 Championship and move level with Wales in the table.
Adam Hastings booted two penalties for Scotland, who remain winless through two games.
A TIGHT FIRST HALF
A year ago, Scotland and England produced one of the great Calcutta Cup matches of all time in a 38-38 thriller at Twickenham.
This encounter could not match that for either quality or drama, but it was perhaps as equally compelling at a storm-battered BT Murrayfield.
Both teams arrived after Round 1 defeats, Scotland going down narrowly in Ireland while England were overawed by France, and knowing their Championship hopes were effectively on the line.
And so an intense first-half ensued in the battering winds that Scotland were on the right side of for the opening 40, with England shielding their faces and defending the ball.
The ball spent as much time in the air as it did in a hand during the first ten minutes and England won the early tactical kicking game, gaining territory and forcing Scotland errors.
Captain Farrell had the first shot at goal with a penalty but he pushed it wide from the left, before making up for it just two minutes later for the first points of the match.
Scotland responded by kicking to the corner after England flanker Lewis Ludlam was penalised at the ruck but the visitors managed to repel the subsequent attack, with Maro Itoje at the heart of their defence.
Yet despite their stubbornness in defence, England struggled to make inroads at the other end. An Elliot Daly gallop down the left was as exciting as it got, while Farrell missed another penalty from a tough position on the right.
Scotland responded impressively in the second half as Hastings levelled the score with a penalty during a dominant ten minutes.
But just as Scotland looked set to score the game’s first try minutes later, England’s defence again kept them out on their own five metre line with Kyle Sinckler securing a crucial turnover.
With the weather conditions continuing to prove difficult, Scotland struggled to free their backs – although Stuart Hogg reminded everyone what he can do by jinking his way past two defenders on a mazy run before finding touch with a superb kick upfield.
England started to edge the battle, although Farrell sent his fourth penalty of the match sailing wide – with teammate Genge called upon to hold the ball at the tee.
But the decisive moment came with ten minutes to go, as a long kick clear from England saw Hogg scampering back towards his own try line.
Hoping the ball would run over the line before England’s chasers got there, and giving Scotland the ball at their own 22, Hogg delayed playing it until the last second.
But as England chasers closed in, he had to take action and ground the ball himself.
England thought they scored a try after it appeared Hogg lost control before grounding but the TMO showed he just managed to get it down.
Still, England made them pay as, from the five-metre scrum, they moved it right and prop Genge dived over for the try that effectively won the match
A second Farrell penalty four minutes from time settled it, while Hastings responded with his second penalty minutes later.
England face Ireland at Twickenham in Round 3, while Scotland chase their first win of the Championship against Italy.
Stuart Hogg will look back and wish he played that ball far sooner, instead of waiting for it to roll back towards his own line.
England’s chase in pursuit of the kick downfield was too quick and Hogg had to act, pouncing on it to concede a five-metre line-out instead of securing the 22 drop out he wanted.
England took advantage, with Genge scoring the try that won them the match.
It was a match where defences came out on top and, although Maro Itoje was a nuisance and Tom Curry busy, Sam Underhill stood tall.
The flanker spoke about how he underestimated what it was like to play at BT Murrayfield when Scotland beat England two years ago, but he was superb here – quick around the pitch, powerful in the tackle and disruptive in the ruck.