Six Nations Diary - Round five

Posted 19th March 2019

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Opta's experts review action from round five of the Six Nations as England and Scotland play out a thriller at Twickenham

Our editorial team are experts at creating stories from Opta's detailed rugby data. Throughout the Six Nations we’ll be taking a look at one of the key matches from each round and – from a statistical viewpoint – dissecting where the game was won and lost. Check out our Six Nations diary entries from round one, round two, round three and round four of the competition. Get in touch here to learn how we can help you bring your rugby coverage to life with quality data and insightful content.

Round five

After Wales’ dramatic comeback victory in the opening game of this year’s Six Nations, it felt that the tournament had already witnessed its proverbial ‘game of two halves’, however in the final fixture of the 2019 tournament England and Scotland played out arguably the two most contrasting halves of rugby in Test history.

The 38-38 tie was the highest scoring draw in Test history, while England became just the third tier one team in history to fail to win a match despite leading by 24+ points at halftime; South Africa (v New Zealand) and Argentina (v Australia) both lost on the same day in 2018 after leading by the same margin.

Quick off the mark

England got off to the quick start that they’ve been used to recently, crossing the line in the first four minutes of a Test for the ninth time in 17 games since the beginning of 2018. England scored 30+ points and wrapped up the try bonus point by half time, a feat they achieved in all three of their matches at Twickenham this year, no other side managed it once.

England also gained more metres (408), beat more defenders (24) and made more clean breaks (15) than any other side in the first half of a game in this year’s Six Nations, taking what seemed like an unassailable lead into the break.

A tale of two halves

The second half was a completely different story. After grabbing what felt like a consolation try at 31-0 down in the first half, not many would have predicted that Scotland would go on to become the first visiting team to score six tries against England at Twickenham. However, the second half became loose which suited Gregor Townsend’s side who enjoy playing amidst the ‘organised chaos’ that this brings – a system in which Finn Russell thrives. The Racing 92 fly-half conducted the play in the second half as Scotland cut loose and scored five tries, beating almost twice as many defenders as they had in the first half and making 10 clean breaks, a stark contrast to the solitary break they made in the first 40 minutes. 







Despite the game becoming more broken up in the second half, Scotland reduced their turnover count from eight down to three, not allowing England to win a single turnover themselves in the second half. Scotland’s tackle success improved too, missing fewer tackles despite having to attempt more in the final 40 minutes.

Bragging rights

After taking the lead with five minutes to go Gregor Townsend’s side will have been disappointed not to ultimately win the game, however Scotland will hold onto the Calcutta Cup for another year after prising it off England at Murrayfield in 2018 – the perfect reward for not giving up after trailing 31-0 after 30 minutes.




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