* England lead 31-0 in first half
* Scotland roar back to lead 38-31
* Ford try saves England
* Scotland still winless at Twickenham since 1983 (Adds quotes)
By Mitch Phillips
LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) - George Ford rescued England with an 83rd-minute try to secure a 38-all draw with Scotland on Saturday after the Scots had come from 31-0 down to lead 38-31 in one of the most remarkable games in Six Nations history.
In a contest that will live long in the memory England roared into the lead, showing no signs of disappointment that the title had already been claimed by Wales earlier in the day with their win over Ireland.
Jack Nowell grabbed the first try after 56 seconds and further scores by Tom Curry, Joe Launchbury and Jonny May – his sixth of the championship, had them 31-7 up at the break after Stuart McInally scored a charge-down try in a rare bright moment for the visitors. Scotland were unrecognisable in the second half though, scoring four tries in 13 minutes - two for wing Darcy Graham and one each for Magnus Bradbury and man-of-the-match Finn Russell meant that after an hour they had come back from 31-0 down to level the game at 31-all.
They then looked to have snatched their first Twickenham win since 1983 when centre Sam Johnson blasted through four defenders to score in the 76th minute, only for replacement flyhalf Ford to find a way through under the posts at the death.
“Unfortunately it’s a recurring problem we’ve got,” England coach Eddie Jones said. “At halftime we had control of the game, we probably should have been ahead by more.
“It’s not something you can fix easily but we know what the problem is... It’s going to take some digging deep into the team psyche but I think it’s a good lesson for us before the World Cup.”
England captain Owen Farrell, meanwhile, struggled to explain what had happened during the second half.
“It shocked us when they got a bit of momentum. We probably allowed them to play a bit too much. We got in a momentum rut and we couldn’t get out of it. It was probably more in our control than we thought.
“The halftime score was pleasing but Scotland were good in the second half. They played some good rugby and punished us.
“All we’ve got to do is learn and improve. We will have to look at ourselves a bit deeper and perhaps that’s a good thing.”
England finished second in the Six Nations standings on 18 points, five behind champions Wales. Scotland, who won only game, against Italy, finished second-last.
The one consolation for the Scots was that they retained the Calcutta Cup after their win in Edinburgh last year.
If there was any feeling of flatness at Twickenham after Wales’s win it was blown away within 56 seconds as Henry Slade advanced into acres of space to send Nowell over in the corner.
A lineout catch and drive pushed Curry over for the second in the ninth minute and a bullocking run by prop Kyle Sinckler opened the way for Launchbury to grab the third before a brilliant one-handed offload by Slade gifted May the fourth.
Scotland looked shell-shocked but did at least get on the scoreboard when McInally charged down Farrell on halfway and somehow evaded May to trundle 50 metres over the line.
To say it galvanized them would be an understatement. Some nice passing fashioned a gap for winger Darcy to burst through some soft tackles and score in the corner and then a break by scrumhalf Ali Price set up number eight Magnus Bradbury.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend sent on five replacements in one go after 56 minutes and, 30 seconds later and with England’s defence in disarray, Graham scored again. Almost unbelievably, a fourth try in 13 minutes made it 31-31 as Russell picked off a Farrell pass on the halfway line and gleefully ran in under the posts. England were all over the place, missing tackles, dropping the ball in contact and, just as in the latter stages of their defeat by Wales, unable to stem the tide.
A stunning defeat looked on the cards when Johnson seized on another dropped ball to slice through from 40 metres but England blushes were spared to a degree when Ford scored under the posts and landed the simple conversion.
“I’m gutted,” said Russell. “At halftime everyone would have written Scotland off. For us to come out and have a second half like that shows the character the boys have. I’m just so disappointed we didn’t manage to finish it off at the end.
“We had nothing to lose and we played our rugby. We played good Scottish rugby the second half.
“There were a lot of injuries but the boys who have filled in have been outstanding. The whole campaign has been frustrating. We’ve had close games and not played at our best sometimes. But it’s a good way to finish with the Calcutta Cup back in Scotland.”
Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Tony Lawrence