Six Nations 2013: Owen Farrell stars as England ease past Scotland
Six Nations 2013: Owen Farrell scores an impressive 18 points to help England beat Scotland 38-18 at Twickenham
Owen Farrell starred with an impressive 18 points as the fly-half helped England to a 38-18 victory over Scotland in their Six Nations opener at Twickenham.
Chris Ashton and Sean Maitland both scored first-half tries in a tight opening 30 minutes, with Farrell’s kicking helping to keep the Red Rose in front.
After the interval, debutant Billy Twelvetrees touched over before Geoff Parling added another try, with Scotland regrouping as Stuart Hogg restored the visitors’ pride with a late score.
If any questions were lingering about how England would cope with intensifying pressure ahead of the tournament, the home side made a bright start to state their Grand Slam title ambitions.
Ben Morgan barged past a series of Scotland challenges before being halted at the 22. Dan Cole led the next assault which resulted in an early penalty, and Farrell made no mistake with his effort.
However, England’s momentum came to a shuddering halt in the 10th minute as Hogg broke clear before off-loading to Greig Laidlaw ahead of an England challenge.
Scotland were temporarily halted by some desperate defending, but it was in vain, as Maitland made sure the visitors picked up five points from their venture into the opposition 22 and crossed over the line. Laidlaw failed to land his conversion.
However, Lancaster’s men showed character to respond immediately as the visitors conceded a cheap penalty – Kelly Browne the guilty man – with a simple kick for Farrell.
David Denton, who replaced Alasdair Strokosch in the early stages, was guilty of woeful pass which led to a Scotland offside, allowing Farrell to make it three from three and give the home side a 9-5 lead.
England were largely disciplined in the first half but a rare mistake allowed Laidlaw to score his first points of the Six Nations championship and move Scotland back to within a point of England.
Scott Johnson’s men had their tails up, and Tim Visser chased down his own kick to force Alex Goode to slice a clearance and give Scotland a lineout at the English 22. However, the visitors were penalised and the Red Rose escaped unpunished.
And finally, on 30 minutes, England broke past the Scottish defence. Twelvetrees and Joe Launchbury both attempted to navigate a way past tackles before Ashton touched down to make it 16-8 – the video referee was needed to confirm the wing’s 17th England try.
When Farrell scored another straightforward penalty, it looked as if Scotland would be trudging in at half-time a disheartened side, but Johnny Beattie’s superb run resulted in a penalty, which Leidlaw duly dispatched.
With the defending champions Wales losing to Ireland at Cardiff in the early kick-off, England had a chance to lay their title aspirations on the line and Twelvetrees added the home side’s second try within two minutes of the restart.
The 24-year-old was on hand to capitalise on great work by Chris Robshaw and Morgan, with Gloucester man capping a fine debut performance with first try in an England shirt.
The Red Rose were well on top, even with Morgan being replaced, and Launchbury appeared to have grounded in the 52nd minute, but Tom Youngs was penalised for a dangerous tackle.
It mattered not as Scotland were immediately on the back foot due to a poor lineout, and Farrell’s perfectly weighted pass gave Parling a simple touchdown and increased his side’s lead to 20 points. The England fly-half was unable to convert, losing his 100 per cent record.
Hogg was urging his side to move forward and relieve the pressure, and the visitors managed to withstand yet another attack, with the ball eventually coming to Visser, who kicked long, and the end result was a Scotland penalty.
The chance evaporated when Denton’s fumble resulted in a knock-on and an England award, but the replacement played a role in Scotland’s second try of the afternoon.
Denton overturned the ball before laying it off to Maitland, who punted long with England out of position. Hogg won the race to ground the ball and Laidlaw’s kick left the scoreline at 31-18.
Scotland showed heart to launch a comeback of sorts in the final 10 minutes, but Danny Care, who replaced Ben Youngs, ensured England finished on a positive note as he touched over on the stroke of full-time to wrap up an emphatic 38-18 win.