By Alan Dymock at Murrayfield
The match in 30 seconds
England did not put in a vintage display, but still won 20-0 against a lacklustre Scotland. Murrayfield may have been expected to be the boggy mess, but in the end it was the hosts, with their scruffy set-piece and sloppy open-field play, that fell apart under the studs. It is the second time in four games Scotland have failed to score at home.
When England needed to increase their intensity they did, driving mauls well and with Danny Care fizzing around between the forwards and the backs they had little else to do. Luther Burrell scored from a finely cut line and Mike Brown scampered in after young Jack Nowell slipped out of a tackle as if it was a silk night gown. Now England have a week off to consider their game against an on-form Ireland while Scotland have Italy in Italy in front of them.
Scotland – N/A
England – Tries: Burrell, Brown. Con: Farrell 2. Pens: Farrell. DG: Care.
– For the second week in a row, Mike Brown and Luther Burrell scored tries while Danny Care dropped a goal.
– Scotland failed to score a point at home, something they also failed to do against South Africa in the autumn and the first time since 1978 they have failed to score against England at home.
– Man of the Match Mike Brown ran for 114m as he jigged past the Scottish defence.
– Debutant flanker Chris Fusaro made 15 tackles for Scotland without missing a single one.
– Scotland had only 24% of the territory in the second half and only 35% possession in that half. They also had a lineout success rate of around 58%.
– Scott Johnson said after the game that they fell into England’s game plan. “There’s naivety there,” Johnson said, “but they’re part of Scotland’s solution.” However he bemoans the lack of front-foot ball.
– “We’ve definitely got regrets about the points left out there,” Stuart Lancaster said post-match. However, he admitted: “on a pitch like that it’s hard to play multi-phase rugby,” and the back three performed admirably when ball was kicked right at them. There were no serious injury concerns after the match.
– Lancaster particularly enjoyed the “four or five players in motion” for Burrell’s try.
– England have a result if not the performance and will be confident hosting triple crown-chasing Ireland at Twickenham.
– They should maintain an identical side for the third game in a row, injury permitting. Billy Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Joe Launchbury and Danny Care were again very effective and the centres look settled.
– Scotland face a quandary. They made big changes and looked limp. If Scott Johnson brings back Richie Gray and skipper Kelly Brown it is as close to an admission of his own folly as you can get.
RW’s proposed Scotland XV v Italy:
Stuart Hogg, Max Evans, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont, Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter, Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Geoff Cross, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Kelly Brown, Chris Fusaro, David Denton.
Why stop changing, now they’ve started? Reward players like Cusiter who have added dynamism and Fusaro who have battled well. Bring back Brown to do his captain’s role and let MacArthur have a go at fixing an awful set-piece alongside Cross.
RW’s proposed England XV v Ireland:
Mike Brown; Jack Nowell, Luther Burrell, Billy Twelvetrees, Jonny May; Owen Farrell, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola.
Why start changing? This is the team that has grown in the last few weeks and that will only feel more comfortable at Twickenham. Ireland are unlikely to make sweeping changes. Make it a straight fight.