English chariot gaining momentum
England 38 Scotland 18:Billy Twelvetrees marked an impressive international debut with one of England’s four tries as Stuart Lancaster’s men cut down Scotland to retain the Calcutta Cup in style. Chris Ashton, Geoff Parling and Danny Care joined Twelvetrees on the score-sheet and the imperious Owen Farrell kicked 18 points as England recorded their biggest win over Scotland in six years.
Scotland did take a surprise early lead with a debut try from New Zealand-born wing Sean Maitland and they mounted a brief late rally with Stuart Hogg’s breakaway try. But the game had long been up by then and Scotland’s 30-year wait for a win over England at Twickenham goes on.
England were back at their headquarters for the first time since the autumn triumph over world champions New Zealand, in which Manu Tuilagi had been the destroyer-in-chief. Tuilagi’s injury-enforced absence prompted a midfield reshuffle with Brad Barritt shifted to outside centre and Twelvetrees had made clear his intention to lay roots in the 12 jersey.
The 24-year-old son of a tree surgeon did all he could. Twelvetrees linked effectively with Farrell, he carried with real purpose and he took his try expertly, picking a superb angle to crash over from close range. Twelvetrees offers a greater attacking dimension than Barritt and he made a strong case to retain the 12 jersey for next Sunday’s trip to Ireland, when Tuilagi is expected to be fit.
Inside Twelvetrees, Farrell was again commanding at fly-half, He landed seven of his eight shots at goal and he directed England’s attacking game with aplomb to earn the man of the match award. Farrell’s pass for Parling’s try was a thing of beauty as England doused the Scottish fire, securing vital quick ball at the breakdown to open their RBS 6 Nations campaign in confident fashion.
England started at a furious pace, with a powerful run from Ben Morgan shunting Scotland onto the back foot before Farrell kicked the hosts into a second minute lead with his first penalty of the game.
Joe Launchury claimed the kick-off and kept the ball alive with a deft offload and Farrell sent Tom Wood careering through a huge hole in the Scotland defence. Wood was stopped short, as was Twelvetrees as he made a dart for the line and then Ashton knocked on out wide as Scotland survived.
The visitors then landed a counter-punch and took the lead with a try from Maitland, capitalising on a poor clearance from Mike Brown and poor England kick chase. When Brown missed touch, England failed to organise their line and Hogg exploited a three-on-one overlap by running straight back between Brown and Dan Cole.
Hogg should have passed to Maitland on his outside before he was halted short of the line but after Ryan Grant had gone close, Maitland was hovering to score in the corner. Greig Laidlaw missed the touchline conversion.
It was a poor passage from England. Red rose coach Andy Farrell has drilled into his men the need to follow a mistake with a positive action and they did just that. Owen Farrell struck two penalties in quick succession, both earned from strong work at the breakdown, as England reclaimed the lead — and they would not concede it again.
Laidlaw did reduce the arrears with a penalty but England were in control of the match and they built pressure after Farrell charged down a clearance kick from Jackson. Twelvetrees almost burst through the line and Launchbury went close but England recycled quickly and Ashton crashed between Jackson and Hogg to score his 17th Test try.
Farrell nudged over the conversion and then exchanged penalties with Laidlaw just before the interval as England went into the break in control. Scotland’s discipline cost them badly in the first half and it continued to do so.
Farrell kicked England towards the dark blue 22 and after an initial thrust from Wood and some probing from Ben Youngs, Twelvetrees ran a superb angle and crashed over the line for a debut try. England thought they had scored a third when Alex Goode danced through the Scottish line and Launchbury followed up to hit the ruck touch down over the line.
The try was initially given and then ruled out by referee Alain Rolland on the advice of his touch judge, who had spotted a high tackle from Tom Youngs. But it was a brief respite for the Scots. A lightning break from Ben Youngs carried England into the Scotland 22 and Farrell floated a beautiful pass out to Parling for the try.
Scotland scored a breakaway consolation try when Hogg ran onto Maitland’s kick ahead, and beat England replacement Toby Flood to the ball in the corner. Briefly it gave the scoreline a flattering look for Scotland but Care, on for Ben Youngs, darted over to round off the England victory with their fourth try.