England start with a bang but Scotland impress

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Coach Logic

The Calcutta Cup is rarely a fixture that can be described as energetic and exciting. In recent year it has been a game dominated by slow play and won through penalties, but in 2013 we have been treated to a glorious progression.

England dominated from start to finish to win 38-18, the scoreline reflecting their domination, and yet Scotland will travel back to Edinburgh today with, you sense, a feeling of optimism about the rest of the tournament.

Owen Farrell produced perhaps his best performance to date in an England shirt, that he amassed 18 points with 7 out of 8 kicks was almost by the by, we have come almost to expect that from him.

No, it was his attacking play that so stood out, a man previously criticised for being one-dimensional and standing too deep was suddenly standing on the gainline, fizzing passes left and right to put teammates into space.

Billy Twelvetrees had a storming debut, and where Stuart Lancaster fits Manu Tuilagi back into this jigsaw will be interesting, the Gloucester centre was England’s second most prolific ball carrier and made the third most ground in his 68 minutes on the field, he also scored a try to put the icing on the cake of a wonderful debut.

Scotland were not without their own stars though, debutant Sean Maitland scored one and made another in an impressive display. It was his partner in crime at full back though who was the real star of the show.

Stuart Hogg, like Maitland, scored one and made another but it was the manner of his running game that was so scintillating. Only nine minutes had gone when he collected the ball from an Alex Goode clearance and looking up he spotted Dan Cole and Mike Brown around the halfway line.

Spotting a chance he ran flat out towards Cole, forcing Brown to cover the outside, before just a hint of a wiggle of the hips and an outside swerve to round the England prop and probe right up to the England 5 metre line to set up Maitland’s score.

At this point though England already had three points in the bag thanks to the boot of Farrell following good work from Morgan and Wood. A missed Laidlaw conversion meant that a second Farrell penalty in the 14th minute gave England a 6-5 lead.

Unfortunately for Scotland the build up saw Al Strokosch pick up an injury, so 2012 man of the match, David Denton, came on. He came into the game with England in the ascendancy but the error count was really the dominant stat at this point in time, with neither side able to sustain possession.

Farrell soon knocked over another three points after Scotland infringed at the scrum, Joe Marler stepping up and getting the beating of Euan Murray, a 2009 Lion no less.

A penalty from Greig Laidlaw left Scotland in touch, 9-8 down, with a quarter of the game gone and there was a feeling around Twickenham that if Scotland could continue to disrupt England’s play and force the mistakes then they were in with a real chance.

That pattern continued for the next 10 minutes until after a series of rumbles on the Scotland five metre line the ball was shipped wide for Ashton to crash over on the half hour. Farrell, inevitably, converted and he added a penalty a few minutes later to give England a 19-8 lead.

Scotland, you felt, were going to need to score on either side of half time to keep in the hunt, and they completed part one of that task as Laidlaw banged over a penalty to make it 19-11 at the break.

Part two was an altogether more tricky task though as England cam flying out of the blocks, no doubt rallied by some choice words from Farrell Senior, who appears to be this sides motivator-in-chief.

No more than two minutes of the second half had gone when Billy Twelvetrees went flying over to cap an outstanding debut. Farrell, of course, added the extras to stretch the lead to 26-11 and leave Scotland looking down and out.

It is at this point though that Scotland fans will perhaps feel reason to be optimistic. Scotland were playing quite well, England were just playing better and dominating possession. When Scotland had it though they were threatening, particularly through that back three of Visser, Hogg and Maitland.

Stuart Lancaster had said before the game though that two mistakes in a row would cost you points, and so that proved as another promising attack from Scotland was cut short and England swept up the field. A sublime pass from Farrell, he has obviously been getting lessons from Charlie Hodgson, saw Parling cruise over on the left touchline.

Farrell missed the conversion but England were now 31-11 ahead and cruising now. The ball was almost solely in their possession and only some typically stoic Scottish defence could repel them, Richie Gray with his 12 tackles was locked in some kind of personal duel with Joe Launchbury for a Lions spot. He need not worry, on this evidence both will go.

Those defensive efforts were rewarded with a turnover on their own tryline. Scotland moved the ball to the right to Denton who, sensing that there was space ahead, moved the ball onto the faster Maitland.

Maitland surged towards halfway before grubbering ahead as the electric Hogg came absolutely surging through. Hogg hacked on again and dived on the ball to score in the right hand corner in quite exhilarating fashion. Laidlaw added the extras to make it 31-18 with nine minutes to play.

It was unlikely that Scotland would be able to mount a genuine comeback in that time but for a few minutes you sensed that they were will to try everything to find out.

England though were calmness personified, and once they regained possession there was never any chance of them letting up. They worked their way into Scotland’s 22, looking to finish the game off in style themselves.

Finish in style they did as Danny Care squeezed over underneath the sticks, in typical fashion, giving Farrell an easy conversion on the final whistle to make it England 36-18 Scotland.

A Calcutta Cup to savour then, and on this evidence both sides will go on to have decent tournaments, both carry threats, both have ambition. A fantastic opening weekend.


Tries – Ashton (30), Twelvetrees (42), Parling (53) Care (80)

Conversions – Farrell (31, 43, 80)

Penalties – Farrell (2, 13, 18, 37)

15. Goode 14. Ashton 13. Barritt 12. Twelvetrees 11. Brown 10. Farrell 9. B. Youngs; 1. Marler 2. T. Youngs 3. Cole 4. Launchbury 5. Parling 6. Wood 7. Robshaw (c) 8. Morgan.

Replacements: 16. Hartley (for T.Youngs 54) 17. Wilson (for Cole 74) 18. Vunipola (58 for Marler) 19. Lawes (65 for Launchbury) 20. Haskell (46 for Morgan) 21. Care (58 for B.Youngs) 22. Flood (68 for Twelvetrees) 23. Strettle (68 for Goode).


Tries – Maitland (9), Hogg (70)

Conversions – Laidlaw (70)

Penalties – Laidlaw (19, 39)

15. Stuart Hogg 14. Sean Maitland 13. Sean Lamont 12. Matthew Scott 11. Tim Visser 10. Ruaraidh Jackson 9. Greig Laidlaw; 1. Ryan Grant 2. Dougie Hall 3. Euan Murray 4. Richie Gray 5. Jim Hamilton 6. Alasdair Strokosch 7. Kelly Brown (c) 8. Johnnie Beattie.

Replacements: 16. Ford (48 for Hall) 17. Low (Not Used) 18. Cross (Not Used) 19. Kellock (56 for Hamilton) 20. Denton (14 for Strokosch) 21. Pyrgos (74 for Laidlaw) 22. Weir (Not Used) 23. Evans (79 for Hogg).

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