England 61 Scotland 21
Published 13 March 2017
by David Nicholson at Twickenham
A TRIUMPHANT England won the Six Nations Championship, the Triple Crown and Calcutta Cup for a second successive year in a comprehensive demolition of Scotland on Saturday.
Remember this was supposed to be a visiting side that had a realistic chance of beating England and reversing decades of misery at Twickenham.
Scotland talked the talk in the build-up, but were left limping not walking after a brutal encounter against a team which had far greater power, precision and ingenuity across the field.
It was a performance from the men in white that saw the home side passing 50 points for the first time against Scotland and equalled the highest winning margin — recorded by Martin Johnson’s 2001 side.
This was by far and away the best performance by England this season, after they misfired against Italy and left it late to beat Wales. It also drew them level on 18 successive victories with New Zealand, as the two tier-one sides with the most successive wins.
This was a performance of such ruthlessness and skill that it could have been the All Blacks themselves shattering Scotland’s pretensions.
Within minutes of the start a pumped-up Fraser Brown took on Elliot Daly and spear-tackled him into the ground. A dazed Daly left the pitch for a head injury assessment and Brown was sent to the sin bin by referee Mathieu Raynal.
The resulting penalty was kicked to touch and a sharp line-out take by Maro Itoje was swiftly shipped out to
Jonathan Joseph for the centre to open the scoring with a sweet try — the first of three for the centre dropped for the Italy game.
England repeated the line-out move three times during the match with the same try-scoring result, as a shattered Scotland were 20 points down within 24 minutes and at half time were 30-7 down.
Despite being outclassed, Scotland scored three tries, with Huw Jones scoring two.
Coach Vern Cotter was not prepared to make any excuses after the demolition of his side but did ruefully admit that the physicality and power of their opponents left his side littered with injuries and having to reshuffle his back line several times during the game.
“They are a very good side and everything they tried came off. We seem to play with more confidence at home and we need to develop it when we play away,” Cotter said.
Captain John Barclay was even more frank in his assessment that his side did not play well, while England did. Barclay said his side “were rubbish and Monday’s review will be brutal.”
Scotland lost their influential full back, Stuart Hogg, and his replacement Mark Bennett lasted just four minutes before he suffered a leg injury.
What was even more ominous for Scotland, and a watching Ireland, was the increasing strength in depth of England, as they brought on Billy Vunipola for a canter in the second half.
The returning forward is a favourite with the Twickenham crowd and showed why he is considered world-class when he scored a try within minutes of entering the fray.
England coach Eddie Jones greeted the win with a broad grin and explained that there had been an attitude shift in his side to embrace what is to come and to lift themselves to greatness.
Jones praised Owen Farrell and George Ford as the on-field masterminds, creating space for others to score tries at will.
“It was good to have Billy Vunipola back because we need strength in depth in each position to become the No 1 side in the world,” Jones said.
Jones was upfront about completing a second successive grand slam and said his team were talking about it in the dressing room.
“Ireland love spoiling parties, and especially the chance to spoil ours next week,” Jones cautioned.
“But not many players have the chance to achieve greatness and next week is a chance for the players to do that. How many times will this opportunity be there for them and they have to seize it.”