Written by James Price
Luther Burrell and Mike Brown both scored as England produced a simple 20-0 win over a dreadful Scottish outfit at Murrayfield.
The pace was not perhaps as frenetic as we have come to expect from Calcutta Cup rugby, but tries from Burrell and the Man of the Match, Brown, were more than enough to secure victory for England in Test rugby’s oldest fixture.
The Murrayfield pitch was in arguably its poorest state for decades, with the patches of churned up turf a glaring backdrop to an otherwise fantastic occasion; on this evidence, the new hybrid surface can’t come soon enough.
The hosts suffered from a lack of accuracy early on as Duncan Weir floated his first kick from hand out on the full under no pressure, and the Scots gathered the ball from an offside position to hand Owen Farrell a simple opportunity for the game’s opening points. The fly-half did take his kick from one of the more pudding-like splotches of mud, but his miss from 25 yards out and straight in front of the posts was glaring nonetheless.
Danny Care got up to his old tricks again minutes later to spare his half-back partner’s blushes. With a penalty advantage being played, and England’s maul on the home 22 going nowhere, Care struck his second drop-goal in as many weeks; having achieved the same feat in Paris a week ago.
Greig Laidlaw was wide with his first of two fruitless attempts on ten minutes; the scrum-half always likely to struggle into the breeze from over 40 metres.
Laidlaw had a chance to put Scotland on the board straight from the restart with another penalty effort, but he glanced the left-hand upright from right of centre.
Farrell should have punished Scotland again on 20 minutes after yet another infringement, but dragged effort wide from the 10m line.
That misfiring lineout is a constant bane for Johnson, and when Ford threw over the top of Hamilton, England won the ball and shortly after a penalty. Farrell converted for a commanding 13-0 lead on the half-hour mark.
The second-half began in similar fashion; England breaking the home line with simple rugby executed at pace. Farrell missed with another penalty effort, but England were soon to win a numerical advantage from their dominance.
Jonny May raced clear down the left-hand-side, and was again halted within a metre of a first international try. Centre Alex Dunbar clung onto him too long after the tackle, and promptly found himself sin binned. Still, though, England could not press home their advantage, despite hammering the Scottish line with a series of mauls.
That all changed as the hour mark approached. A smart runaround move off a lineout on halfway saw the visitors outflank the Scottish midfield defence. It appeared the chance had gone when Stuart Hogg brought Jack Nowell down on the 22, but the ball found its way back to the winger, who showed good feet and timing of his pass to send full-back Brown round under the posts.
The visitors continued to press but Lancaster will in truth be irked that his charges did not rack up more points from their territory and possession in the closing stages.
And so it was to finish; a game England never looked like losing, Lancaster’s only gripe the win was not a more handsome one. Much to ponder for Scott Johnson, but these problems are none he has not been faced with before.Tweet