Six Nations: Scotland 30-21 England – Duhan van der Merwe made Calcutta Cup difference

When Duhan van der Merwe scorched down the left wing to score his second try of a stunning hat-trick, it completed a Scotland turnaround that looked a million miles away just 10 minutes earlier.

With 19 minutes gone at Murrayfield, England were in total command of this Calcutta Cup contest, dominating possession and stifling Scotland with their new-look blitz defence.

Their 10-0 lead was in no way flattering.

But two moments of magic from Van der Merwe, created from next to nothing, stunned the visitors and swung momentum Scotland’s way as they marched to their fourth successive win over England.

“Van der Merwe’s second try deserved more than just five points,” said former England winger Ugo Monye on BBC One. “You need moments of magic and players to stand up – he did that.

“Not only is it a brilliant finish, I don’t think England recovered emotionally from that.”

‘One of the game’s best’

Van der Merwe has history against England, of course.

In last year’s championship, the Edinburgh man bulldozed his way through several would-be tacklers to score one of the all-time great tries, before finishing off a stunning team move to wrap up a famous away win.

And he delivered the goods against the Auld Enemy once again, with the first hat-trick by a Scotland player against England in an individual performance that will go down in the annals of the sport.

He is now just one behind Stuart Hogg as Scotland’s all-time leading try-scorer and it is a matter of when, not if, he climbs to the top of that list.

The man himself was humble afterwards, crediting the role of his team-mates in setting up his three scores.

“I can’t believe it,” Van der Merwe said. “I have never scored a hat-trick against England but I have to thank the boys for giving me the opportunity.

“I must be waking up and feeling like scoring tries. I guess I am just the lucky one to finish them off. To get my first hat-trick against England is unbelievable.”

That downplays the skill and game awareness Van der Merwe showed on his way to the tryline.3

For his first, he drifted off his left wing and followed Huw Jones, who made the initial break from midfield.

Having received the offload from Jones, the South African-born back showed superb composure to throw a dummy, step off his right foot and dot down under pressure from the scrambling England defence.

Gregor Townsend singled out that understanding of space. “His first try was outstanding, the awareness, everything,” Scotland’s head coach said.

The second score was all about Van der Merwe, though. The acceleration he showed to beat Ben Earl, and then the sheer pace to tiptoe down the line was, as Monye said, “absolutely world class”.

His third was all predatory instinct – being in the right place at the right time – as he ran on to Finn Russell’s kick to score in the corner.

Van der Merwe was beaming before he put the ball down, perhaps realising what he had just achieved, going where no Scottish player had ever gone before against England.

On an afternoon where the hosts weren’t quite at their best as a collective, Van der Merwe delivered in the key moments.

His clinical finishing was undoubtedly the difference between the sides.

“We’re waxing lyrical about Van der Merwe because he is one of the game’s best,” former Scotland captain John Barclay said.

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