Six Nations 2014: England wander as Scotland take back step

Five mins before kick-off during Murrayfield, internal favourites a Red Hot Chilli Pipers chose to perform a masses by blustering out their bagpipe-heavy chronicle of Journey’s soft-rock anthem Don’t Stop Believin’.

It was perhaps, in retrospect, an unlucky choice of tune. Within 10 mins even those Scots who had arrived believin’ – and that wasn’t many – were removal of hope.

Before a half was up, things had got so bad that there was usually dishonesty – during a unfit line-outs, during a disease of penalties, of a panic to flog a turn divided to nowhere on a few occasions it could be snatched behind off a English.

Just 3% of a compare was played in England’s 22. Those are a arrange of numbers that even ageing soft-rockers from San Francisco can know as ugly.

They kept coming. Scotland mislaid 5 of their possess line-outs, missed 27 tackles and conceded 16 penalties. The barbarous parasitic worms that have wrecked a Murrayfield territory hold onto a turn for longer.

These Calcutta Cup contests in Edinburgh’s cold, damp welcome aren’t ostensible to be pretty. They mostly destroy to furnish a try. No-one unequivocally minds, given it is about a ferocity of adversary and conflict rather than honeyed hands and swallow dives.

What they are not ostensible to be is quiet, or a stroll, or an comfortable thoroughfare to unarguable victory.

England’s 20-0 win

on a typically dour Saturday dusk was all those and more. That a domain could have been doubled though too many bitch was both a source of service and pain for a chastened home support.

Luther Burrell dives over to measure England's opening try during Murrayfield

Luther Burrell dives over to measure England’s opening try during Murrayfield

Both Luther Burrell and Mike Brown could have had other tries to supplement to their second in dual championship matches. Replacement scrum-half Lee Dickson slipped with a try-line within reaching distance. Owen Farrell’s capricious balance and aim left 9 points out there in penalties alone.

If that speaks of a small profligacy, it is roughly a usually critique that can be directed during Stuart Lancaster’s men. If

last week in Paris

had been a box of what if and what should have been, this was a matter of what they are: a absolute and enterprising pack, associated to an increasingly sparkling backline, related by a scrum-half in career-best form and a fly-half whose placement and lurch continues to warn his critics.

Not given a excellence days of a decade and some-more behind have England hexed a brazen section with as many intensity and depth. As opposite France 7 days before, Dylan Hartley was accurate and energetic, Courtney Lawes inhuman in a tackle, Chris Robshaw stubborn during a breakdown.

None still were as eye-catching as Billy Vunipola – not usually for his 16 carries, or a approach that defenders seem to rebound off him or get dragged along, even if attached, like rugby’s chronicle of remora fish, though for his unconstrained off-loads: behind of a hand, turn a defender, mind and turn always alive.

It constructed possession during gait for England’s half-backs to relish. Care, usually as he did in Paris, kept that lurch high. Just as in Paris, he nailed a impertinent drop-goal; after his daub and go had led to a try for Brown then, so his run and pass into a pointed run of Burrell brought England’s initial this time.

The backs have not always been a many celebrated success of Lancaster’s reign. With a gait of Jonny May and venerable using of Jack Nowell, a battering force of Burrell, a hands of Billy Twelvetrees and a continued lurch and step of Brown, that might be about to change.

Official compare stats









5 (0)

Scrums won (lost)

6 (0)

7 (5)

Line-outs won (lost)

22 (2)


Pens conceded


72 (1)

Rucks Mauls won (lost)

80 (6)


Possession kicked


111 (27)

Tackles finished (missed)

109 (11)





Line breaks


(provided by Accenture)

Pickings opposite a

revitalised Ireland

in a fortnight are doubtful to be as easy.

Scotland rugby supporters are not intrinsic barricade-stormers; better has turn an unwelcome though informed habit. But in a humid Edinburgh air, among a well-heeled and naturally conservative, there was genuine annoy during what their group have become.

Coach Scott Johnson certified thereafter that a scoreboard had flattered his team. He also wryly certified to a unbending neck from looking exclusively during one finish of a pitch, that rather abandoned a fact that his side were as trapped on their possess doorstep in a initial half as they were in a second.

Little that he has finished this week has finished many judicious sense. Despite a contemptible display in Dublin final Sunday, a usually brazen he forsaken was captain

Kelly Brown,

for a compare that was great out for his knowledge and leadership.

Those he did atonement gave him no pardon to do so again. Supporters can pardon singular lapses underneath impassioned duress. Scotland instead finished them continuous and rudimentary.

There was dog-legged defence. There were knock-ons and passes thrown into touch. There were spills, minimal thrills and copiousness of bellyaching.

David Denton, roughly alone among his team-mates, was carrying a decent diversion – some-more carries and some-more metres finished with them than anyone else in a blue shirt. Johnson’s response was to take him off with roughly half an hour still to play.

There have been singular Scottish sides in a past. What they have roughly zodiacally managed to find for this tie is a passion that has been transformative; declare the

rain-soaked conflict in 2000

that both denied England a Grand Slam and dodged a Wooden Spoon, or the

15-9 toil in 2008

that flustered an England group that had been World Cup finalists reduction than 6 months before.

Not this time. Maybe a aged nationalistic certainties have been eroded. Second quarrel Jim Hamilton, innate in Swindon, plays for Montpellier; winger Tommy Seymour, innate in a United States, played for Ireland during under-19 level. The manager is Australian and a forwards manager Welsh.

But these trans-border complications are not disdainful to Scotland, as




own routes into a white jersey illustrate. Once again, usually dual matches into a Six Nations, usually a outing to Italy is expected to mount between them and serve ignominy. New coach

Vern Cotter

cannot start shortly enough.

And England? They will trust there is some-more to come, usually as they might finish this championship woeful that late detriment to France even some-more than they do now.

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