England are not panicked after Calcutta Cup setback – Lewis Ludlam

Lewis Ludlam insists there is no sense of panic after England ushered in the Steve Borthwick era with a 29-23 defeat to Scotland that put an early dent in their Guinness Six Nations title chase.

Gregor Townsend’s side came out on top in a Calcutta Cup classic with seven tries to record a third consecutive victory over the Auld Enemy and record consecutive wins for the first time in the competition’s 152-year history in Twickham.

England led by a single point heading into the final 10 minutes, but the defensive fragility that was evident throughout was exposed once again as turbocharged winger Duhan van der Merwe struck for the second time.

While this wasn’t the result that dissipated the gloom over the last year of Eddie Jones’ stewardship, there was much to admire about Borthwick’s first outing as head coach as the buzz returned to Twickenham.

“There’s no panic about that performance, but it’s important we build on that because Italy is coming and we need to get better,” said Northampton flanker Ludlam.

“It was a real test match. It’s hard not to get frustrated with the result. Some of our mistakes got them into the game and that’s Test Rugby, they punished us for those mistakes.

“In terms of how we want to play and the struggle we showed, it was really encouraging from an England point of view.

“There is clarity about how we do things. I feel like this group is closer. There’s a really deep, emotional connection now about what it’s like to play for England.

“The guys want to fight for each other and for the coaches. It’s encouraging and while disappointing that we didn’t win, we’re going in the right direction.”

Van der Merwe emerged as Scotland’s match winner by pounced in every half, although debate will continue over whether his stunning first try was as much down to England’s defensive shortcomings as his own individual brilliance.

The imposing Lions wing dodged five tackles on a run launched from inside his own half as a combination of speed, power and footwork swept him across the whitewash.

“Van der Merwe was a huge threat to them and he played fantastic. He really got them on the forefoot and we didn’t handle that well enough,” said Ludlam.

“He’s a fantastic player and he’s very good at finding space. If we had been working on our defense for the next two years, would he have made that breakthrough? I don’t know. It’s hard to estimate.”

Like Ludlam, England’s two-try wing Max Malins was another player who had been marginalized by Jones, but was put into the starting XV by Borthwick.

The Bristol-bound Saracen believes there was enough in the performance to give supporters a springboard ahead of the second round with Italy.

Max Malins scored two tries against Scotland

Max Malins scored two tries against Scotland (Andew Matthews/PA)

“I’m sure fans went to the game not really knowing what to expect. Hopefully they can see that performance and look at the good of it,” Malins said.

“I’m convinced there were some good things in it and hopefully that will get the fans excited.

“Ultimately we get to represent our country and we are proud of that and we want to make those fans happy. So that’s our goal in eight days.”

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