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Gerard Meagher reports on Finn Russell's impressive performance for Scotland at Murrayfield, leaving fans in awe.
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Gerard Meagher reports on Finn Russell’s impressive performance for Scotland at Murrayfield, leaving fans in awe.


There have been numerous standout displays from Finn Russell in matches against England. He has made incredible contributions and created unforgettable moments of brilliance in this rivalry, but none more impressive than his assist for Duhan van der Merwe’s third try – the crucial score that secured Scotland’s possession of the Calcutta Cup.

Until the 45th minute, England’s aggressive defense had effectively contained Russell’s impact on the game by limiting his opportunities to handle the ball. Throughout the game, he had resorted to mostly kicking the ball when he did have possession, with Ollie Chessum and Ollie Lawrence keeping a watchful eye on him.

During the second half, Russell noticed a chance for a unique play. He quickly assessed the situation, took a few steps, and decided to kick the ball. However, England’s defense was moving quickly, and they managed to block his kick. Redpath, who had just entered the game, reacted quickly and retrieved the ball. He then embarked on an impressive run that caught England off guard. Although he was eventually stopped, Russell was already calling for the ball. He then made a perfectly timed crossfield kick to Van der Merwe, who was charging towards the ball. Despite getting tackled by an England player right after making the kick, Russell never backs down from a challenge.

The main idea is that many other fly-halves would have been focused on their mistake from a few seconds ago. Russell’s biggest advantage is his capability to move on from errors, and this was clearly shown. Scotland did not have a particularly unified performance, but they were merciless when given the chance, which was enough to defeat England. The weaknesses of England’s team have now been revealed.

Similarly, Russell’s talent for executing his vision is contagious. This has definitely rubbed off on Van der Merwe, who has scored six tries in four games against England and was rightfully chosen as the man of the match. He caused trouble for England at Twickenham last year and did the same 12 months ago when playing on his own turf.

Although Scotland’s win may have been based on individual chances rather than executing a flawless strategy, they deserve recognition for their resilience in fighting back from a 10-0 deficit in the first quarter.

Scotland is no longer afraid of this event, and if they fall behind early, they won’t panic. Russell’s attitude has greatly contributed to this, as he has won five times and drawn once in his nine matches against England.

Duhan van der Merwe scores his third try during Scotland’s victory against England.

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As the first quarter of the match was coming to an end, Scotland experienced almost every possible mishap. Russell brought some excitement to the home crowd within the first 20 seconds with a skillful basketball-style pass to Blair Kinghorn, but the cheers quickly turned to silence after George Furbank scored the opening try for England.

A few minutes after, Scotland’s tighthead prop Zander Fagerson was removed from the game for a head injury evaluation. He appeared confused by this and his head coach, Gregor Townsend, was not pleased. Overall, it was a messy start to the game with numerous handling mistakes and a lack of fluidity. During these moments, fly-half Finn Russell seemed to be on the sidelines, but he did his part in bringing pace to the game by quickly taking the kick-off after George Ford’s penalty and gaining favorable territory and possession for his team.

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Shortly before the 20-minute mark, Scotland became very active. Russell had previously mentioned that if he wasn’t able to break apart England’s defence, then they would have to rely on Sione Tuipulotu, Huw Jones, or Blair Kinghorn. One might question if England was paying attention, as Ben White passed to Tuipulotu instead of Russell. Tuipulotu, who plays as the inside-centre, then maneuvered past the blitz defence and assisted Jones in scoring before Van der Merwe successfully touched down the ball.

His second, scored with tail well and truly up, was a peach. It was opportunist, too, but outpacing Ben Earl, who is no slouch but had been wrongfooted, Van der Merwe arced his way towards the left-hand corner before straightening in a manner which evoked memories of that Gareth Bale goal for Real Madrid, when the Welshman took the long way round to score against Barcelona. England were rattled by that and for the next few minutes the sort of chaos in which Russell thrives ensued.

After Scotland established a significant advantage, England faced difficulty in closing the gap. Russell then applied pressure by frequently kicking long and quickly, as well as taking advantage of penalty opportunities to maintain a distance from his opponents. His calmness was highlighted by the tough performance of Fin Smith, who replaced him for England. Despite this, Smith is a skilled player and will have more opportunities in the future, but credit goes to his counterpart for another successful day.

Source: theguardian.com