George Ford: Dodging bullet against Scotland in 2019 taught England vital lesson

George Ford says a never-say-die spirit was born out of dodging a bullet the last time Scotland came to Twickenham.

With England staring humiliation in the face, the fly-half came off the bench to score and force a draw with the final play of an astonishing game.

Two years on Ford needs no reminding of England blowing a 31-0 lead, allowing Scotland to score six unanswered tries and lead by seven with time up on the clock.

But he is convinced the way they saved themselves at the death proved a major turning point for a side which has gone on to win two trophies and reach a World Cup final.

“Since then we’ve noticed we’re a lot calmer in those situations,” said Ford, pointing to way England held their nerve to beat France in sudden death overtime and win the Nations Cup last time out.

“That day against Scotland it was the last play of the game and we had to do a lot of things knowing that one mistake and the game would have been over.

“To have the ability to be accurate and execute under the most intense pressure was a real positive. We saw the benefits of that against France.”

It is no surprise England are odds-on favourites to make a winning start on Saturday given none of their players were alive the last time Scotland won at Twickenham.

But they know to take nothing for granted after the shock Finn Russell’s Bravehearts gave them in 2019.

“It showed how quickly and even aggressively momentum can shift in a Test match if you don’t look after your own game,” he said.

“If you give the other team so many things to go after and that many opportunities, it is difficult to stop it.

“But in terms of a challenge and being under the most intense heat, it was great for us.”

At the time Jones concluded that his team had a mental weakness which needed fixing.

"It's like we have some hand grenades in the back of a jeep and sometimes they go off when there's a lot of pressure," he said.

Ford believes that with time that experience has had the effect of making England calmer in clutch situations, less likely to panic under the cosh.

“The crucial thing when you come to a situation like that is to understand what you need to do,” he said.

“I think we’re now not so desperate to try to snatch and win the game.

“We understand the process and that our best chance of eventually scoring is to do all the basics, build some pressure and stay calm.”

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