Saracens' Vunipola says England must learn from errors against Scotland
PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 March 2019
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Eddie Jones' men led 31-0 at one stage, but needed a late converted try to draw 38-38
Saracens back-row forward Billy Vunipola says England must pick themselves up from Saturday’s dramatic second-half collapse against Scotland in the Guinness Six Nations and carry on with their World Cup preparations.
George Ford’s converted try in the final play of a thrilling Guinness Six Nations encounter saved the hosts from further embarrassment, especially after surrendering a commanding 31-point lead, with the game eventually ending 38-38.
With Wales having already wrapped up the title with a convincing 25-7 drubbing of Ireland, England looked untouchable for the first 35 minutes.
Scotland then staged a remarkable comeback to stun the sold out Twickenham Stadium audience, as well as the millions watching on ITV.
Vunipola, who played alongside Sarries colleagues Owen Farrell, George Kruis, Jamie George and Ben Spencer, could not pinpoint England’s second-half downfall, but admits there are plenty of mental aspects to be worked on.
“I guess we had the game get away from us and it’s a lesson to learn from going into the World Cup,” said the 26-year-old.
“There were 30 minutes against Wales and 40 against Scotland where we slipped which is disappointing, but hopefully it’s something we can learn from.
“It’s tough to get a hand on a team that plays as free-flowing as Scotland and when they have nothing to play for, which they did after we went up 31-7, it reignited their spirit and we let them get on top of us.
“It is a lesson we can learn from and moving forward hopefully we can get through it if we ever encounter that in a World Cup game.”
Vunipola’s club colleague Sean Maitland, who played at fullback for Scotland, was gutted the visitors were unable to hold on for a famous lead.
“It was just one of those games where everyone in the stadium was probably feeling all of the emotions,” he said.
“It was a classic game of two halves, wasn’t it? I’m not sure what Gregor Townsend said to us at half-time, but it kicked the boys up the backside.
“We had nothing to lose and we just backed ourselves; we played, kept ticking away and soon we had the lead - it was just crazy scenes.
“It is disappointing not to win and I’m pretty gutted because I thought with four minutes to go we were looking for a big win, but credit to England who pulled it back.”