‘A painful lesson’: Borthwick admits England not good enough in Scotland

<span>Head coach Steve Borthwick bemoaned <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:England;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">England</a>’s handling errors at Murrayfield.</span><span>Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images</span>

England’s head coach, Steve Borthwick, has admitted his side were taught “a painful lesson” as they slumped to a record-equalling fourth successive Calcutta Cup defeat. It is now Scotland’s best winning sequence against England since 1972 and Borthwick conceded his team’s mistakes had sown the seeds of their own downfall.

“We know today wasn’t good enough,” said Borthwick. “When you make that number of handling errors at this level it’s very difficult to win. Ultimately we made it too easy for them to score. They were very clinical but the huge lesson for us is that [conceding] that number of turnovers makes it very difficult.

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“Sometimes you get away with making errors. Against a team like Scotland you don’t. Scotland’s 10, 12 and 13 have started a dozen times. That is the first time our 10, 12 and 13 have started together and it looked like that. There was a lack of cohesion in what they did and there were too many fundamental errors. I don’t think the team maximised its potential today. We’d all love progression to be on a nice linear path but, ultimately, it’s not.”

Borthwick’s team now have to beat either the championship leaders, Ireland, at Twickenham, or France in Lyon to avoid finishing a fourth successive Six Nations with only two wins from their five games. England’s captain, Jamie George, however, believes his side have the capacity to perform better in their final two games. “Hopefully the fans saw in the first 20 minutes how we want to play. It’s now about how we back that up.

“I don’t have any issues with how we played in the first half but then we were a little bit loose. We gave the ball to Finn Russell and [Duhan] van der Merwe ... they can create magic and they did that. I think the foundations are good but we need to execute the gameplan better. We knew it would be difficult coming up here but we weren’t good enough. Test rugby can be pretty cruel. We saw that today.”

Instead it is Scotland who now look the likelier challengers to unbeaten Ireland. They still have to play Italy and Ireland and their head coach, Gregor Townsend, believes his team overcame England without performing at their best. “For 15 minutes we didn’t play very well at all,” said Townsend. “But it’s great that we got the win. To score 30 points in this fixture shows what this team is capable of. The threat we have out wide does put teams under pressure; they can’t just focus on our midfield. And to deny them a losing bonus point was also good.”

Townsend, meanwhile, believes improvements still need to be made to the new mouthguard technology designed to measure potentially dangerous impacts on the field. The Scottish prop Zander Fagerson had to be temporarily replaced early in the game after what Townsend felt was merely a “normal tackle”, following a similar episode involving hooker George Turner against France earlier this month.

“We really have to watch what we’re doing here,” said Townsend. “You don’t want to be taking your best players off the field for 10 minutes. You want to protect the players but there’s a bit more work to do before the technology is correct. It’s a new thing in the Six Nations ... I hope they learn from today’s incident and make sure [the readings] are as close to accurate as possible. We need to do a bit more work on it.”