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'Painful lesson': The Steve Borthwick verdict on wounding England loss

By Liam Heagney
Jamie George leads off England after their loss to Scotland (Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England boss Steve Borthwick has described Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations defeat to Scotland as “a painful lesson”. The Scottish Gas Murrayfield visitors flew out of the blocks in Edinburgh, storming into a 10-0 lead just 15 minutes into the round three fixture.


However, they then defensively wilted, enabling Duhan van der Merwe to grab the try hat-trick that allowed the Scots to close out a well-deserved 21-30 win that will leave England fans fearing the worst when their team hosts Ireland, the defending champions, at Twickenham on March 9.

Multiple handling errors and a lack of cohesion in the 10/12/13 channel manned by George Ford, Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade left England vulnerable to the beating they sustained in Scotland and it put into grave context the supposed steps forward in their recent respective three- and two-point wins over Italy and Wales.

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“It’s very clear that when you make that many handling errors at this level, it’s very difficult to win,” accepted Borthwick when asked to explain what had badly gone wrong against a Scottish team that has now won five and drawn one of the last seven Calcutta Cup encounters.

“Especially against a team of Scotland’s quality. We have got to make sure we respect what a good team Scotland are and the chances they took.

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“Ultimately we made it too easy for them to score in terms of the chances they took but they were very clinical. Huge lesson for our team as we develop. The number of turnovers makes it very difficult to win.”

Was he frustrated by the mess that England became after such a promising start in which George Furbank, who surprisingly took the full-back spot that had belonged to Freddie Steward, pounced with a lead-taking fifth-minute try? “We’d all love progression to be a nice linear path. Ultimately it’s not, especially when you are trying to do it at this level.


“What you saw at this level is a team that is trying to develop, trying to add layers to the game and made errors today and got punished. Sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don’t. Against a team like Scotland, you don’t. It’s a big learning experience, it’s a painful lesson.

“As you start to look at it against a Scotland team that has been together a long time, their 10/12/13 [Finn Russell, Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones] has started a dozen Tests together. I think that is the first time our 10/12/13 have started together and it looked like that. It looked like a lack of cohesion in what they did and too many fundamental errors.

“After a defeat, you are always disappointed. After a performance where you don’t think you have maximized your potential, it’s always disappointing.

“It doesn’t matter the result, the scoreboard, in that sense. If you don’t maximise your potential, it’s disappointment and I don’t think the team maximized their potential today.”




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