Error-strewn England set up a three-way fight for the Six Nations title with Wales and Ireland on the final weekend as they finally put away a dogged Scotland to retain the Calcutta Cup.
The Scots had led by three points at half-time as numerous home chances were tossed away, and they remained in touch until the final five minutes after England failed to convert further golden try-scoring opportunities.
But a late try for Jack Nowell sealed a win set up by a try and 10 points from the boot of the impressive George Ford, and leaves Stuart Lancaster’s men top of the table and in the hunt for their first title in four years.
Their advantage is slender – locked on six points with Ireland and Wales, they have a points difference of +37 to Ireland’s +33 and Wales’ +12.
And with a misfiring France to play at home next Saturday, Ireland travelling to Scotland and Wales away in Italy, the title could yet go three different ways.
For Scotland the Wooden Spoon looms again as their 32-year wait for a win at Twickenham goes on, but they gave their error-strewn opponents a genuine scare.
For the first time in an age England got out fast, almost across the line in the opening minute when Ben Youngs and Ford set Luther Burrell away, but Stuart Hogg pulled off a fine tackle.
But soon afterwards, the Bath combination of Ford and Jonathan Joseph sliced the blue line again, and this time the outside centre stepped full-back Hogg to go under the posts.
Mike Brown was then hauled down by Hogg two metres short after the easiest of inside breaks from Youngs before Nowell squandered another break with supporting runners either side of him.
The sole positive for a ramshackle Scotland was the fact they were only seven points down, but from their first foray deep into England territory they were somehow level – Tommy Seymour making inroads off quick line-out ball, Jonny Gray taking it on and Mark Bennett stepping inside Chris Robshaw on the right touchline to spin over the line.
Ford and Greig Laidlaw then exchanged simple penalties to leave it 10-10 with half an hour gone, before Anthony Watson had a try ruled out for a forward pass from the lively Ford.
Only a desperate tap-tackle from Brown denied Seymour after Finn Russell’s cute inside pass and when England went offside Laidlaw put Scotland into an unlikely lead – the first time they had been ahead at Twickenham at half-time in a quarter of a century.
The lead was short-lived. Nowell made rapid progress down the left, and when the ball was recycled Ford spotted prop Euan Murray in front of him, dummied a pass to Courtney Lawes to take out Rob Harley and accelerated under the posts.
His conversion made it 17-13, a penalty a few minutes later extending the advantage to seven, although further chances continued to go begging.
Replacement hooker Tom Youngs threw away one pass when clear, Watson failed to find the galloping Burrell on his shoulder after being sent away by his fly-half and then Brown had a try ruled out for a blatant forward pass from James Haskell.
Disregarding the damage done to England’s hopes of winning the title on points difference, it meant Scotland remained within a converted try with 15 minutes remaining, and it was to roars of relief from the home support that Nowell dived over in the left-hand corner late on.
Only in seven days’ time will they know whether that wastefulness will cost them the first silverware of Lancaster’s regime.
Brown, Watson, Joseph, Burrell, Nowell, Ford, B. Youngs, Marler, Hartley, Cole, Attwood, Lawes, Haskell, Robshaw, B. Vunipola.
Cipriani for Brown (76), Wigglesworth for B. Youngs (66), M. Vunipola for Marler (59), T. Youngs for Hartley (50), Brookes for Cole (66), Parling for Attwood (50), Wood for Haskell (66). Not Used: Twelvetrees.
Hogg, Fife, Bennett, Scott, Seymour, Russell, Laidlaw, Dickinson, Ford, Murray, Hamilton, Gray, Harley, Cowan, Denton.
Tonks for Scott (41), Hidalgo-Clyne for Russell (71), Grant for Dickinson (59), Brown for Ford (59), Cross for Murray (54), Swinson for Hamilton (47), Beattie for Harley (66), Ashe for Denton (54).
Romain Poite (France).
Provided by Accenture
Scrums won (lost)
Line-outs won (lost)
Rucks/mauls won (lost)
Tackles made (missed)