Gregor Townsend: Duhan van der Merwe’s try was like something from a video game
Gregor Townsend likened Duhan van der Merwe’s stunning solo score to something from PlayStation game ‘Jonah Lomu Rugby’ after Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup with a thrilling 29-20 win over England.
Van Der Merwe ran from inside his own half and evaded five tackles as he sensationally lit up Twickenham with the second of the visitors’ four tries in a Guinness Six Nations classic.
The British and Irish Lion proved to be the match-winner by plundering a decisive second try six minutes from time to ruin Steve Borthwick’s start as England boss.
Yet emotional head coach Townsend was left purring about Van Der Merwe’s majestic 28th-minute effort as he toasted a famous bonus-point victory.
He said: “It was incredible, wasn’t it? It reminded me of when, for everybody of a certain age, you played Jonah Lomu Rugby and suddenly one person can go quicker.
“Duhan hasn’t had much rugby over the last few weeks. He’s trained really well with us but to play like he did today on the back of an injury, and not playing for Edinburgh, is real testament to how he’s got himself in this position, both mentally and physically.
“And I almost saw a different side to Duhan there as he stepped and then accelerated away.
“His finish for the last try was similar to two years ago (an 11-6 victory) when he finished in the opposite corner.
“It was a brilliant finish but that first try was amazing, and one that gets the Scotland supporters going crazy in the stand and silences everyone else because you don’t see tries like that very often.”
A simply incredible try 😍#AsOne pic.twitter.com/l8FfuCnm5x
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 4, 2023
Scotland were forced to come from behind as they continued their recent domination of this fixture.
Despite Van Der Merwe’s eye-catching effort adding to Huw Jones’ opening try, they trailed 13-12 at the break following Max Malins’ double and an Owen Farrell penalty.
England, playing under Steve Borthwick for the first time, stretched that advantage to 20-12 thanks to Ellis Genge burrowing over.
But the Scots hit back through scrum-half Ben White and Van Der Merwe’s second to snatch a third successive win over England from a helter-skelter encounter.
Scotland were backed by a raucous travelling support in London, in stark contrast to two years ago when they triumphed behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions.
“I felt a lot of emotion at the final whistle,” said Townsend. “I don’t know whether it was because of the noise or the occasion.
“I never came close to winning here when I was a player and to do it now when you’re part of a team that does get a win. Two years ago there was no crowd here, so to do it today was emotional.
“We celebrate our wins so we had a bit of fun in the changing room.”
Borthwick’s debut ended in painful disappointment and he admitted his team threw away a great chance to wrestle back the Calcutta Cup.
“Clearly we’re disappointed with the result,” he said. “Scotland have controlled this fixture in recent years and I thought they were very good.
“They didn’t get a lot of chances but the chances they got they took ruthlessly. We need to make sure we limit those chances. They moved the ball very well from deep in attack.
“We saw some growth, particularly in the attacking side of the game. The team looked like they had points in them and try-scoring potential. But we want to win and we’re disappointed that we didn’t.
“We were hit by a couple of scores in that first half that came out of nowhere really.
“The team responded incredibly well because if you had rewound a bit, the team wouldn’t have reacted in the way it did.
“To go into half-time up was credit to the players. At 20-12 up, we shouldn’t be letting that game get away from us, but we did.
“We’ll have a good look at it and part of growing as a team is going through some pain. We could have won that game but didn’t.”