Six Nations 2014: England bounce back in style against listless Scotland
Six Nations 2014: Luther Burrell and Mike Brown help England to a comfortable 20-0 win over Scotland at Murrayfield
Two years ago England needed a Charlie Hodgson chargedown to emerge victorious in Stuart Lancaster’s first game at the helm – this time Luther Burrell’s try led to a more straightforward 20-0 Six Nations victory at Murrayfield.
In his first match in charge of England Lancaster had come away with a hard-earned victory and the Calcutta Cup that launched his team towards a second-place finish in the Championship.
On this occasion they dominated from the off with Burrell’s first-half try, as well as a drop goal from Danny Care and penalty from Owen Farrell, giving them a comfortable 13-0 half-time lead.
In the second half England continued to dominate, and after Alex Dunbar was sin-binned, man of the match Mike Brown went over to extend England’s lead on the hour.
England continued to press but had to settle for just the two tries, while Scotland were kept scoreless against England for the first time since 1978.
Both sides entered the game after opening day defeats, England falling to a last-gasp Gaël Fickou try in Paris while Scotland were overpowered in Ireland.
England had chosen to stick with the same starting line-up as at the Stade de France but Scott Johnson decided change was needed, bringing in three new faces including debutant Chris Fusaro for captain Kelly Brown.
A week after their nightmare start in Paris, England should have got off to a flyer in Edinburgh with an early penalty in front of the posts after Ryan Wilson collected a knock on from an offside position.
But the pitch, which had suffered from a lot of rain in the build-up to the game as well as a turf parasite, gave way and Farrell’s effort squirted wide.
Scotland were not level for long though as Care slotted a drop goal for the second week running.
After the hosts were penalised for driving early in a lineout, the scrum-half took a shot from wide on the left knowing he had a penalty advantage if he missed. His effort was on target to give England a 3-0 lead.
Scotland had the opportunity to draw level almost immediately when Dylan Hartley was penalised for going off his feet at a ruck, but Greig Laidlaw, captaining the side in place of Brown, saw his effort curl wide from a difficult angle.
England’s early game plan revolved around a powerful rolling maul and after Scotland were penalised for coming in at the side they were able to drive deep into Scottish territory.
Their efforts at another rolling maul were stopped short, but the Scottish defence did not hold out for long as Burrell scored his second Test try, getting on the end of Care’s delayed pass to ghost through and score. Farrell’s conversion made it 10-0 after just 15 minutes.
Laidlaw had another chance to get Scotland on the board almost immediately after Courtney Lawes was penalised at the restart, but again the Scottish captain was off-target, this time clipping the outside of the post.
Fortunately for Laidlaw, Farrell was equally profligate with a second penalty miss after Sean Lamont had been caught offside at a ruck.
England extended their lead just before the half-hour as Scotland paid the price for their indiscipline, this time it was Jim Hamilton who was caught with his hands in the ruck and Farrell made no mistake to make it 13-0.
Scotland tried to get back into the game but just as they had been in Ireland, they were held back by a misfiring lineout.
The visitors looked set for their second try, again through Burrell, as Farrell sliced through the Scottish defence before delivering to his centre, however this time the Scottish cover defence stopped him just short of the line. The ball did not emerge from the ruck and England had to settle for a 13-0 half-time lead.
It could have been worse for Scotland early in the second half after another lost lineout, but Burrell’s break and pass to Jonny May, whose Championship debut a week ago had lasted just eight minutes before he broke his nose, eventually came to nothing.
Johnson needed to change something and on came Scott Lawson and Alasdair Dickinson, but the prop’s first contribution was to drop the ball with his team on the front foot.
England looked set to score their second try after a searing break from May, but he was hauled down by the retreating Tommy Seymour.
It did not hold England back for long and after a Scottish knock on the home scrum was penalised, but Farrell was off-target once more.
Scotland were up against it and their task got more difficult after 51 minutes when Dunbar was sent to the sin bin for not releasing May after another break down the left.
After initially struggling to take advantage of their extra man, England eventually struck through Brown, who emulated Burrell with his second try in as many weeks.
It came from a missed tackle from Matt Scott, who could not bring down Jack Nowell, and the young Exeter winger played the two on one perfectly to send Brown over. Farrell slotted the simple conversion to make it 20-0.
The Scots continued to struggle and never threatened a comeback and will have to turn things around quickly before heading to Italy in a fortnight.
England meanwhile, prepare for the arrival of unbeaten Ireland at Twickenham with their campaign back on track.