Six Nations rugby 2023 highlights, scores, Duhan van der Merwe try video, Scotland vs England
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend compared Duhan van der Merwe’s wonder try to a play from Jonah Lomu’s much loved video game after the winger provided the highlight moment from a compelling opening round of the Six Nations.
South Africa-born van der Merwe burst through two players in England’s defensive line then shrugged off five would-be tacklers – including two weak efforts near the tryline – to go over for a sensational try that might not be bettered in the tournament (watch the video in the player above).
“It was incredible, wasn’t it?,” Townsend said after Scotland’s 29-23 win to continue its recent dominance of the Calcutta Cup.
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“It reminded me of when, for everybody of a certain age, you played Jonah Lomu Rugby and suddenly one person can go quicker… I almost saw a different side to Duhan there as he stepped and then accelerated away.”
Van der Merwe also scored a 75th minute try in the left corner to seal a fourth victory in Scotland’s last six matches against its auld enemy, ruining the first game in charge of England for new coach Steve Borthwick.
But it was the 29th minute effort – after he set off from inside his own half – that will be replayed for years to come.
The 27-year-old said it was ”the best try of my life.”
“I was absolutely buzzing,” van der Merwe said.
“I just got the ball and I saw there was some space in front of me, and once I got through the first line of defence there was heaps of space, and somehow I managed to use footwork, which I never normally do, and I went over for the try.
“Obviously, getting a win against England is always special, and being able to score two tries makes it much more special.”
Scotland is unbeaten on its last three trips to Twickenham, a stadium where England strolled to a string of unbroken, mostly comfortable wins from 1991-2017.
There remains plenty to fix for Borthwick, who has taken charge after England’s seven years under now Wallabies coach Eddie Jones and with only seven months to go until the Rugby World Cup in France.
France survives Italy scare to set up Ireland showdown
France put down a daring Italy 29-24 on Monday (AEDT) and played its part in setting the stage for the eagerly awaited Six Nations showdown with Ireland next weekend.
The French, ranked No.2 in the world, will be defending the title against the Irish, ranked No.1, and the nominal title favourite.
France hasn’t lost since 2021 and Ireland hasn’t lost at home since 2021, when France last visited Dublin.
But to extend its winning streak to 14 Tests, France had to overcome an unexpectedly serious scare from Italy.
Italy fought back from 19-6 down to lead for the first time in the match at 24-22 with less than a quarter to go.
It had been 10 years since Italy had beaten France or won at home but the huge crowd at Stadio Olimpico weren’t the only ones on edge.
France was making uncharacteristic errors under pressure – a remarkable 18 penalties, 13 turnovers and a yellow card conceded for the first time in more than a year.
Shaun Edwards, considered the world’s best defence coach, believed it was the most penalties any side of his has given away in 22 years in rugby.
The difference ultimately came from a late injection of fresh reinforcements.
Sekou Macalou earned a turnover and fellow replacement Romain Taofifenua gave the last pass for new flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert to crash over for a bonus point fourth try with 13 minutes left.
Italy hammered France to the end, though.
Tommaso Allan missed a long range penalty and a last gasp lineout drive was broken up by France to end the match in relief.
“We’re in a good habit at the moment of winning tight, close games,” Edwards said.
“It happened (last year) against Australia, South Africa. Hopefully, we’ll continue that habit but we all know if we don’t up our performance next week we’ll be on the end of a 15, 20, 30 points hiding.”
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Ireland tops Wales, spoils Gatland’s return
Ireland justified its status as rugby’s top ranked country and the team to beat in the Six Nations by using a strong start to run over Wales with a 34-10 bonus point victory, spoiling Warren Gatland’s first match since his return as coach.
The 2023 tournament’s first game was virtually over as a contest inside 30 minutes, by which time Ireland had crossed for almost identical tries by forwards Caelan Doris and James Ryan – through close-range carries – and a breakaway score by winger James Lowe after he intercepted Dan Biggar’s pass out wide just outside the Irish 22.
It gave the Irish a commanding 27-3 lead, the most points they’d ever put on Wales before halftime in championship history.
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They never looked like relinquishing the lead under the roof at Principality Stadium, even as they dropped their intensity and a Welsh second half rally contained a converted 46th minute try from Liam Williams.
Any chance of a close finish was ended by Williams getting a yellow card for an illegal tackle on Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton in the 65th minute.
It was during the fullback’s absence that flanker Josh van der Flier, the world’s best player in 2022, went over for a fourth try to secure a bonus point.
Ireland coach Andy Farrell wanted his players to experience – and savour — the white hot occasion of a Test match in Cardiff to prepare his team for what is to come in a World Cup year.
They passed the test with flying colours, their first championship win in Cardiff in 10 years.
It befit a battle hardened team that won a Test series in New Zealand last year and followed that up with a clean sweep of autumn victories over South Africa, Fiji and Australia.
“These are the occasions you want to be part of, in this stadium against a tough side,” Ireland fullback Hugo Keenan said.
“They’re in transition but are always a serious team, especially here.
“We’re only taking things one game at a time. We won’t get caught up with anything.”
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