From a Six Nations context, this Calcutta Cup contest was supposed to be rendered rather meaningless.

Try telling Scotland, who came within a whisker of their first win at Twickenham since 1983.

The gripping 38-38 draw certainly reflects much more favourably on Scotland than England.

A few hours down the M4, Warren Gatland's party was already well underway.

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And party he might after Wales trounced a terrible Ireland 25-7 to secure Gatland's third Grand Slam in 11 years.

As far as upsets go, though, Scotland almost took the Six Nations cake with one of rugby's greatest comebacks.

When England kicked off, Wales were holding the trophies aloft, having also moved to second in the world rankings after their 14th straight victory lifted them above Ireland, who produced their worst performance of the Joe Schmidt era in Cardiff.

By half time here, at Twickenham, pre-match predictions seemed on course with England cruising to victory over a Scottish team decimated by injuries and down on confidence – their only previous win in this season's competition coming against Italy.

Scotland's Pete Horne and Owen Farrell of England. Photo / Photosport
Scotland's Pete Horne and Owen Farrell of England. Photo / Photosport

With all pressure relieved, England began with freedom and exerted frustrations.

Four tries came in the first 30 minutes, flourishing off the back of rapid ruck ball, lethal counter-attack and offloads in the wide channels. It was all too easy.

England were sitting pretty at 31-0, before Scotland captain Stuart McInally briefly stemmed the tide with a runaway charge down try against the run of play.

Little did the full house expect that to be the start of a scarcely believable Scottish response, one which saw them storm the second half with the wind at their backs to score five tries and 31 unanswered points to somehow draw level and leave Twickenham stunned.

Swing Low had increasing pangs of nervousness.

England clocked off mentally. From so clinical and ruthless, they were panicked and rattled in an instant.

As the rain fell, their decision-making fell apart; they started to lose the ball in contact and make basic errors.

With the match locked up England were fortunate, too, that captain Owen Farrell escaped a yellow card for a collision where he again led with his shoulder.

Different rules for Farrell persist.

Meanwhile, Scotland pressure kept coming; Finn Russell nabbing a loose Farrell pass to continue the momentum swing.

Scotland's Finn Russell clears the ball during the Six Nations rugby union international between England and Scotland at Twickenham. Photo / AP
Scotland's Finn Russell clears the ball during the Six Nations rugby union international between England and Scotland at Twickenham. Photo / AP

When second-five Sam Johnson stepped Jack Nowell and crashed over with four minutes remaining to steal the lead for the first time, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend celebrated in the stands.

History was within reach. Thirty-six years is a long wait.

England had one final shot – a lineout 10 metres out with time up. Their pack rumbled and rumbled, edging closer.

Spirited Scottish defence did everything they could to hang on but, eventually, George Ford sliced through; his conversion from under the sticks securing a face-saving draw.

Scotland, after beating England last year, retain the Calcutta Cup. It is nothing more than they deserve, either.

England's Ben Youngs, bottom, scores a try during the Six Nations rugby union international between England and Scotland at Twickenham stadium in London. Photo / AP
England's Ben Youngs, bottom, scores a try during the Six Nations rugby union international between England and Scotland at Twickenham stadium in London. Photo / AP

For England, there is no other way to assess their Six Nations, other than to say it was a failure.

Each time they were put under genuine pressure - in Cardiff and here - they crumbled.

For all their growth and attacking strike power, that remains a major concern.

Can they win big games? Right now, the answer is no.

After storming Dublin in their opening match of the season, where they were heavy underdogs, England should have kicked on.

They stunned the best team of 2018 but then could not handle the pressure that carrying the mantle brings.

Wales are worthy Six Nations champions. Scotland will take great heart from their second half rearguard action.

Eddie Jones and England boast a talented and capable squad but clearly much work remains in the leadership department before the World Cup.

Mentally, Jones admitted his side are fragile.

"It's a bit of a recurring theme for us," Jones said. "We've probably experienced this at least three times in the past 12 months where we've taken control of a game, let our foot off the gas, and then been unable to get control back.

"These are possibly things the team has had for a long time – even before I've had them. We need to make sure we get the right people in to help us and we'll sort it out.

"It's 100 per cent mental. There's no physical difference out there at all, it's 100 per cent the way you think.

"We're all disappointed but it's a lesson. The hardest lessons are the best lessons and you want these sort of lessons before you go to the World Cup because you do that in the pool game against Tonga, for instance, and you can find yourself in a difficult situation."

Scorers:

England: Jack Nowell, Tom Curry, Joe Launchbury, Jonny May tries, Owen Farrell con 4, pen

Scotland: Stuart McInally, Darcy Graham 2, Magnus Bradbury, Sam Johnson tries, Finn Russell con 2, Greg Laidlaw con

HT: 31-7