Scotland came from 31-0 down only to see their hopes of a first win over England at Twickenham in 36 years dashed by George Ford in stoppage time on Saturday as a remarkable Calcutta Cup clash ended in 38-38 draw.
The final match of the 2019 Six Nations Championship appeared to be all over as a contest by the half hour with England 31-0 ahead.
Scotland, however, scored six tries, Darcy Graham crossing twice, in a run of 38 unanswered points to be within minutes of a first Twickenham triumph since 1983.
But the third minute of extra time at a blustery and rainswept Twickenham, saw England replacement fly-half Ford, following an attacking line-out off a penalty, score a try he converted to tie the scores with the last kick of the game.
Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup courtesy of their 25-13 at Murrayfield last year, with England finishing this Six Nations as runners-up behind champions Wales.
The combined total of 76 points made this the highest scoring draw in Test history.
It was the first involving England and Scotland, who played the inaugural rugby union international in 1871, since a 15-15 encounter at Murrayfield nine years ago and the first between the old rivals at Twickenham since a 12-12 clash in 1989.
But Saturday’s result in their last competitive match before the World Cup in Japan starts in September is bound to lead to fresh questions about their nerve following a second-half collapse in a defeat by Wales last month.
– ‘Seduced by the scoreboard’ –
England coach Eddie Jones said his side had been “seduced by the scoreboard”, with the Australian adding: “It was 100 percent mental.”
Meanwhile Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was left struggling to make sense of an incredible match.
“I’ve never been involved in a game like that as a player or a coach,” said the former Scotland playmaker.
“To go out and score another five tries in the second half is still hard to believe.”
England kicked off knowing they no longer had any chance of winning the title after Wales completed a Grand Slam by overpowering Ireland 25-7 in Cardiff earlier on Saturday.
But they still had their first try inside a minute and led 31-7 at the break.
Even by England’s own recent quick starts, a try in just 56 seconds from wing Jack Nowell was something else an they were soon 14-0 ahead after flanker Tom Curry was driven over from a close range line-out.
Prop Kyle Sinckler barged over Scotland full-back Sean Maitland to set up a try for lock Joe Launchbury, with Owen Farrell making it 21-0 before his penalty extended the lead.
Scrum-half Ben Youngs then broke clear and found Henry Slade, who in turn produced a delightful inside flick to Jonny May as the England flyer, who’d come in off the left wing, went over.
England captain Farrell’s conversion maintained the fly-half’s faultless kicking record, his side now 31-0 up with only 30 minutes played.
– Scotland roar back –
Scotland captain Stuart McInally started the fightback when the hooker charged down Farrell’s kick and ran 40 metres for a try between the posts.
Fly-half Finn Russell added the easy conversion but England still led 31-7 at half-time.
Scotland, however, scored two well-worked tries early in the second half as England relaxed.
After good charges by forwards Hamish Watson and Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner released wing Darcy Graham.
Then No 8 Magnus Bradbury crossed following good work by scrum-half Ali Price with Russell — who could not convert Graham’s first try — on target.
AFP / Glyn KIRK Finn Russell (2nd L) scored after intercepting a loose pass as Scotland wiped out England’s huge lead
Graham scored a second try to narrow the gap and Scotland, amazingly, were level on the hour when Russell intercepted a loose pass from Farrell that saw him go in for a try between the posts converted by replacement Greig Laidlaw to make it 31-31.
Farrell, fortunate not to be yellow-carded for a shoulder charge on Graham, was replaced with 12 minutes but Laidlaw — whose uncle Roy played in the victorious 1983 side — missed the ensuing penalty.
Scotland, however, took the lead when, after England No 8 Billy Vunipola was turned over, centre Sam Johnson sprinted in for a try between the posts converted by Laidlaw only for England to hit back in an astounding climax.