England gained revenge for their defeat at Myreside last year with a 7-1 try victory at Franklin’s Gardens last night, with a performance built on raw power in the forward pack and a strong bench that helped the home side achieve five touchdowns in the second half.
Scotland were in the game for most of the first half but the number of tackles they had to make eventually took its toll after the break.
Even so, Scotland can take credit for their, at times, heroic defence and for their determination to run the ball when opportunities arose. On the debit side, Scotland’s lineout was poor and their set scrum at times struggled against England’s heavyweights.
The Scots were under pressure from the kick-off and looked certain to concede an early try only for England’s centre Ollie Lawrence to knock on.
Then when England tried to open play Cameron Redpath – son of former Scotland captain Bryan, who was watching from the stand – fired a predictable pass, allowing Cameron Anderson to intercept and run in under the posts leaving Ross Thomson with an easy conversion.
England, however, replied quickly, winning turnover ball at the ruck that gave full-back Tom de Glanville the chance to dance through a disorganised Scottish defence for a try converted by Manu Vunipola.
The home side had two tries chalked off after the referee checked with replays while Scotland were also denied a score when, from a break by Roan Frostwick, stand-off Thomson touched down. The try was chalked off for a knock-on.
It seemed the teams would go into the break level at 7-7 but in stoppage time Vunipola kicked a penalty to the corner and from the resultant lineout England used their superior power and weight to score through flanker Tom Willis to give England a 12-7 half-time advantage.
England made a statement of intent at the beginning of the second half with powerful forward play that paved the way for a second try, this time by flanker Aaron Hinkley and converted by Vunipola.
Then when Lawrence powered upfield the offload to Redpath gave the England centre a try again converted by Vunipola.
England brought on their bench and the impetus of fresh power soon brought further tries by Alfie Petch, Alfie Barbeary and Arron Reed and two conversions from Vunipola for an eventually sumptuous win.