Duhan Van Der Merwe scores hat-trick as Scotland strengthen grip on Calcutta Cup

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Magnificent Duhan Van Der Merwe became the first player to score a Calcutta Cup hat-trick for Scotland as they soared to their fourth consecutive victory over England in an intoxicating Guinness Six Nations showdown in Edinburgh.

The jet-heeled wing – who scored a stunning double at Twickenham just over 12 months ago – had the home crowd in raptures as he produced a Murrayfield masterclass to inspire his team to a 30-21 victory and move to within one of Scotland’s all-time record try-scorer Stuart Hogg.

England started brightly and opened up an early 10-0 lead, with George Furbank scoring his first international try, but Steve Borthwick’s men offered little thereafter as their unbeaten start to the championship shuddered to a halt.

Remarkably, the Red Rose have now won only one of the last seven meetings with Scotland.

Led into battle by courageous captain Jamie George just over a week after he lost his mother to cancer, England made a strong start.

Having forced the Scots back from the outset, the Red Rose got themselves ahead in the fifth minute when Northampton full-back Furbank – making his first start in almost two years – bounded over gleefully from close range after being played in by Elliot Daly at the end of a brilliant move.

Scotland suffered a further setback moments later when Zander Fagerson had to go off for an HIA, although the influential prop was able to return to the fray in the 18th minute.

By that point, England had opened up a 10-0 lead, with Ford kicking a penalty in the 15th minute.

Scotland had been in a state of disarray for most of the opening quarter, but they suddenly sparked into life and got themselves back into the game in the 20th minute.

Huw Jones made a dash for the line on the right and after being dragged to the ground, the centre flipped the ball up into the path of Van Der Merwe, who produced a superb piece of skill to find a gap and bolt over.

The early wind had been removed from England’s sails and Van Der Merwe edged the Scots in front on the half-hour mark with a breathtaking score from his own half.

As the visitors mounted an attack, Ford’s heavy pass bounced off the face of Furbank and into the hands of Jones, who instantly offloaded to Van der Merwe 60 metres out.

The wing put on the after-burners and raced clear up the left, leaving a trail of white jerseys in his slipstream. Finn Russell added the extras before stretching the hosts’ advantage to 17-10 with a penalty shortly afterwards.

England were wobbling, but Ford kept his cool to reduce their interval deficit to four points with an opportunist drop goal from 35 yards out.

Scotland suffered what appeared to be a blow within seconds of the second half kicking off when Sione Tuipulotu limped off to be replaced by Cam Redpath.

However, the substitute centre was instrumental in the hosts going further ahead in the 45th minute when he burst through a gap on the halfway line.

A ruck ensued as Redpath was halted in his tracks, and Russell produced one of his trademark cross-field kicks out to the left for Van Der Merwe, who burst over for his hat-trick and his 26th try for Scotland.

Ford reduced the deficit to 24-16 with a penalty in the 50th minute, but Russell put the home side firmly back in command with a couple of penalties either side of the hour mark.

England – having offered little since the opening quarter – gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 67th minute when replacement wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso bolted over on the left.

Fin Smith – with the chance to bring his side within a converted try of victory – hit the post with the conversion, leaving the Scots nine points ahead and able to see out the remainder of the match in relatively comfortable fashion.

Not even a yellow card in the closing moments for a tip tackle could take the shine off Van Der Merwe’s day.

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