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Same old story for Scotland as Lancaster profits

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Tom Fordyce | 08:03 UK time, Sunday, 5 February 2012

If you had accidentally stumbled into the post-match interviews at Murrayfield on Saturday night, the briefest of glances at the faces of the two coaches would have told you all you needed to know about the preceding few hours.

England’s interim coach Stuart Lancaster was wide-eyed, beaming, even letting rip with the occasional unabashed chuckle after his team’s 13-6 victory. Scotland’s Andy Robinson, by furious contrast, had looked ready to punch his way into next week – scowling, frowning, seething, not so much a bulldog chewing a wasp as one stung all over the snout by a whole swarm of them.



Scotland had more possession, far more chances, much better territory and the obvious man of the match in young David Denton. They made 238 passes to England’s 72, spent almost twice as long in England’s half as they did in their own and forced the men in white to make a remarkable 142 tackles to their own 62.

That they still were defeated was not only a triumph for England, but also for impotence over opportunity, panic over composure. Robinson had promised before kick-off his side would unleash chaos. What he hadn’t expected was that it would be in their own minds whenever they entered England’s 22.

Three times Scottish forwards smashed through a crumbling defence to give themselves a wonderful chance of breaching the England try-line. All three times they tossed those precious chances away. First it was Jim Hamilton, striding through only for his fellow forwards to allow the ball to be turned over. Then Richie Gray rampaged into English territory and flung an over-ambitious offload that Al Strokosch knocked on by his ankles. Worst of all was Ross Rennie, away with Mike Blair free and screaming inside him but delaying his pass so long that last man Ben Foden could slap it away in the tackle.

England made sloppy errors of their own. Chris Ashton somehow found himself at first receiver from a defensive scrum deep in his own half and was summarily scragged for the penalty that allowed Dan Parks to give Scotland a 6-3 half-time lead. When they pushed on to the front foot, new skipper Chris Robshaw bulleted a pass high over Ashton’s head with the winger in space and rapid motion.

Sixteen tackles were missed in total as cold fingers slipped ankles and shoulders. Such slip-ups you might expect. England’s starting line-up had less than half as many caps in total than Scotland’s. By the end seven men without a single previous minute of international rugby on their sporting CVs had taken the field.

What was less easy to predict was how well the inexperienced would handle the pressure, the occasion and the periods of Scottish superiority. While they were breached, they never broke. Scrambled tackles saved earlier errors, cool heads stayed up when the heat came on.

“I thought we showed tremendous amounts of spirit,” Lancaster said with quiet pride. “That is what teams are built on. Fundamentally it comes down to attitude.” Scotland’s problems were not confined to England’s half. Parks’s kicking from hand early on was wayward and aimless. His dithering over a clearance in the opening seconds of the second half was a gift that his opposite number Charlie Hodgson accepted with glee.

But it was their inability once again to score a try that left the thousands of home spectators chuntering away into the surrounding streets and pubs. Saturday’s blank makes it five of their last six home games against England in which they have failed to cross the try-line.

“It seems a little like deja vu,” Robinson thundered. “We’re all bitterly disappointed about what’s happened here. We haven’t been able to take our chances. Again.”

Robinson was unhappy with television match official Nigel Whitehouse for ruling against Greig Laidlaw when the replacement chipped and chased against Ben Youngs – and also referee George Clancy at one key area. He added: “I’ve spoken to Greig. He says he got his hand to the ball first. The law says you have to have downward pressure; it looked like there was downward pressure.

“I thought George refereed it well, but my one issue is the breakdown. There was a slight difference in interpretation about releasing it. I felt they were staying over the ball for that extra fraction of a second.”

Not all will agree with him. What is unarguable is the predicament he and his side find themselves in. Scotland have now won only one of their 13 opening matches in Six Nations. Robinson has just two wins from 11 Six Nations matches in charge.

This was not a pretty spectacle. Neutrals across Europe watching from the sofa were probably off to the kitchen to make the half-time cuppa well before the first 40 minutes were up. None of us should be in the least bit surprised. These matches are never pretty. Hodgson’s match-winning try was the first England have scored at Murrayfield since Danny Grewcock crossed the line in 2004. England’s win over Scotland at the World Cup last autumn was even uglier.

The difference this time is that victory has given their supporters hope rather than a sense of impending disappointment. Lancaster has impressed most observers with his forthright words and thoughtful man-management. What we didn’t know was how good a coach he might be – and we probably still don’t. Only five players from England’s starting XV five months ago began on Saturday, as rapid a revolution as the red rose has experienced.

If this was no subsequent great leap forward from England, it never could be. Lancaster has had his players together for less than a fortnight. “It’s step one in the journey we’re making,” Lancaster said afterwards. Far sterner tests lie ahead, not least the trip to Paris to meet a French side that should have improved several notches from the one that ended the regime of his predecessor Martin Johnson last October.

Ireland and Wales are unlikely to be as profligate with ball in hand and space as Scotland’s muddle-headed wanderers. Yet neither should the victory be glossed over as simply a layer in the new foundations. England have struggled enough in Edinburgh in recent years for a Calcutta Cup win away from home to be worthy of celebration in itself. Johnson never managed one. Nor did Robinson in his spell in charge of his native country. Even Sir Clive came unstuck here in memorably spectacular fashion during the 2000 Six Nations.

Of the new boys, Phil Dowson had a tough evening. Brad Barritt tackled himself into substitution. Owen Farrell landed his most important kicks, against a crescendo of boos, while the four off the bench stood firm against the frenetic late onslaught. Lancaster said: “Given we’ve had nine days together, this is a great win.

Our discipline was very good and so was our desire to work hard, our desire to play for each other and play for the shirt. “We have lots to work on. We got broken a couple of times and we have to make sure we get broken no times. But it has given us a great start.”


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  • Comment number 1.

    It's a start - time will tell on Lancaster's brand of management when England play really, really well and lose - then will he be able to resist not changing things and trusting his players or will he think "I've changed it once and I'll change them wholesale again".

  • Comment number 2.

    I know he is trying to build up his players but no way can Lancaster claim "this is a great win". Scotland lost the game by being totally inept and on the evidence of yesterday, both sides will struggle to make a mark this year and Italy will be fancying their chances.

  • Comment number 3.

    Scotland had the chances, they wasted them. That made the difference. If they'd finished them, the result(what really matters in the end) could have been vastly different. England used their chances satisfactorily but didn't create enough of them. If Lancaster does well in this 6N and gets us to third place (which will require a victory over France, Ireland or Wales) he should be frontrunner to keep the role. otherwise the whole process restarts over the summer and in the autumn which is bad for continuity. Please RFU, don't treat Lancaster like you treated Brain Ashton.

  • Comment number 4.

    If Scotland had played like England it would have been "gallant, brave, gutsy.organised, street wise Scotland" and remember Bannockburn. As it is England the spin is totally different always. Yes they were damned lucky but many times England have played all the rugby and lost especially against Scotland. This time, against all the odds, they won. Celebrate now because I don't think it'll be Swing Low this year. if we beat Italy I think that'll be it this season for England. France and Ireland? Heaven help us.

  • Comment number 5.

    To paraphrase Martin Johnson: "George Clancy a bad referee- Shocker"

    Bemoaning referees and TMO decisions (especially when they are correct) is a smokescreen. The truth of the matter is that the Scottish provinces are playing good rugby in the HC and it is not being translated to the national team. The problem for Scotland is a stodgy breakdown and slow ball, not too unfamiliar a predicament for Robbo as it was the same when he coached England!

    Both Robbo and Townsend are running out of excuses in my opinion. The players that have been performing week in, week out for Edinburgh and Glasgow are not performing for Scotland...

  • Comment number 6.

    I recall as a kid (many years ago) thinking how in a dour 3 - 0 English victory where a kicker missed a penalty to draw level in the last minute, the media reporting positively on the England performance whereas the headlines would have been totally different if the penalty had been scored. How fickle the media are. If Rennie had off loaded and Scotland scored as they should then the headlines for yesterday would have been quite different with the rest of the match the same. This was a poor English dispaly against a poor Scotland Team who overall deserved to win apart from their two bad errors - one leading to an English try and one losing their own. England are so far behind the curve with no flair that one can but expect them to lose all but the Italy game for the remaining matches.

  • Comment number 7.

    As for England the best they could have hoped for was a win and they got it. This is a scratch side and it showed. Our lineout was non-existent and our attacking play was the same. The positive though was that they played as a team and there seemed to be a "one for all" attitude again. Yes we rode our luck and Scotland were wasteful, but this was a side with umpteen new caps playing away from home at a hostile venue they haven't won at in eight years in the first game of the 6N with a brand new coaching team. I think a win and strong signs of a good team spirit was about as good as we could hope for.

  • Comment number 8.

    Possibly the worst game of Rugby I've ever watched

  • Comment number 9.

    I feel a bit sorry for Robinson, Scotland played the better rugby but were badly let down by players making schoolboy errors. When an international 7 runs straight into the last defender, with support outside him, the coach is not to blame.

    #5 Scotland were OK at the breakdown, and while Robinson was in full control of the England team, England were also decent at the breakdown - it was only when Wells took over the forwards that England lost the ability to generate quick ball.
    Scotland's problem is a familiar one from Robinson's time in charge - a lack of creativity and invention in midfield, for Noon and Tindall read De Luca and Lamont, for Andy Goode read Dan Parks.

    As an England fan I have mixed feelings about the game, the defence was excellent, and it was good to see England playing with a pride that was sadly lacking at the world cup. On the other hand, the lack of ball was a worry, and if it is repeated against Ireland or France, England will be in big trouble. Then again sub-zero temperatures under the floodlights at Murrayfield may not be the best place to judge a team performance - particularly if the aim is to play a more expansive game. Unless any oof the injured players are ready to return I guess it will be more or less the same side against Italy, aalthough I thought Morgan looked made a case for the number 8 shirt.

    Amongst the subs, I don't see why Mike Brown is on the bench. He may be in outstanding form, but Foden was England's best player last night, and having a player who can only realy cover one position is a worry. It was fine when we are leading, but if England are trailing in the last 20 minutes, we need an outside back with a bit more gas.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm not sure its possible to judge England here, too many changes (7 new caps?) and a new coaching set up - this result, without any shadow of a doubt is a real shock result. Will England get thumped by France, Ireland & Wales as so many predict ... they probably will making such posters merely masters in stating the bleeding obvious - but with such a new and young squad Lancaster is setting himself up for the equivalent of that 'Tour from Hell' presumably hoping for the same progress that led to the class of 2003.

    Now you can pull this game apart and dissect it any which way you like but this is an England squad thrown together with little or no time to prepare playing against a side that always holds a grudge (never mind the arrogant way they dared knock Scotland out of RWC) and playing away in one of the most hostile grounds an England team can play-- England should have lost by a margin wider than the Forth road bridge and Scotland should have been able to win, or win ugly if necessary!! Against any of the other top nations England would have lost and lost handsomely and the mere fact Scotland couldn't win this one is a shocking reflection on Andy Robinson I'm afraid. Other posters have said it, the man is running out of excuses and his perpetual whining should be harnessed as the next green energy boom ...

  • Comment number 11.

    Well done to the England team for coming to Edinburgh and getting a victory few had predicted they would.
    I cannot believe how mince this Scotland team is at finishing off the basics. If the Wales team from the World Cup had been playing England yesterday, they'd have put 50 past England.
    For years I have been saying that Scotland do not seem to have the ability to complete a simple 2 on 1 pass. The Scottish ball carriers are fantastic at breaking the line, but rarely is there anyone else to take the pass, and when there is, it breaks down due to basic handling errors. This is simple stuff! Professional rugby players (Ross Rennie please note) should be comfortable passing the ball either left or right, regardless of which foot hits the ground. Taking an additional step closer to the defender so you can plant your right foot down and pass to your left cost us the game yesterday.
    Also quite curious why the ref didn't give Scotland the penalty he was going to give us prior to the Greig Laidlaw 'try'. I wouldn't have thought and England drop 22 was a good enough advantage for Scotland. Hey ho, not to worry. Here's hoping Italy are guff this year too!

  • Comment number 12.

    As an England fan I think you have to be happy with this - we didn't play well and probably didn't deserve it but that happens sometimes, it will be interesting to see how they now perform against Italy.
    Have to say I do feel a little sorry for the Scots, if they had converted one of those opportunities you sense they would've scored a few more and this issue of not being able to score tries is as much a psychological one as anything else.

  • Comment number 13.

    With so many new faces, new captain and new management to win in Scotland at the opening of the Six Nations is a fantastic performance. Period. As Tom mentioned in his article many a better England team as tried and failed in recent years.

    The confidence that will give this new England team is huge and hopefully they can start to build a more expansive fluid game with that confidence. England will have to do extremely well against the likes of Ireland and France to avoid potential embarrassment however without the win over Scotland such a demolition would be much more likely.

    Well done boys, unlike recent times you made me proud. Just hopefully you can make it more exciting in the future.

  • Comment number 14.

    @11: The advantage was never adequately explained (why the advantage was not followed following "that try") but my assumption is that the Ref decided Scotland had kicked the advantage away with that chip which is pretty standard - the only time an advantage is always returned after a kick is typically with a failed field-goal

  • Comment number 15.

    #6 if England are "so far behind the curve" what does that say about Scotland? Wins a win, they get better as the tournament continues.

  • Comment number 16.

    Wow.....Scotland can't pass the ball more than 3 times without dropping it, the core skills on show by both teams was not that of skilled athletes but of gym monkeys programmed by the chuckle brothers.

  • Comment number 17.

    I got the impression that the Scottish side looked "over coached". They are like rabbits in headlights in the final 22 with their brains well and truly in the dressing room. Too lateral when in posession, a creaky scrum, and a total lack of nous. How often did the wide men receive passes too high and just slightly behind them, so that they had to pause and take half a skip, therby losing vital momentum. And please don't let us EVER see the name Parks on a Scotland teamsheet again! Only Robinson knows why he sticks with him. I hear Mickey Mouse has a Dan Parks watch.
    They should get back to learning basic rugby skills and stay out of the weight room for the whole week. You don't win tournaments without scoring tries.
    Jiffy was spot on with his post match description of them as "Dreadful".
    The game was dire, the outcome inevitable and we wonder why children don't try to emulate this lot?

  • Comment number 18.

    The only surprising thing about the TMO was that he took so long to rule out the try. Andy Robinson was surely the only person watching the replays to think there could possibly have been a try…

  • Comment number 19.

    9 days together - what did everyone expect? A win was the most we could have hoped for - or a good peformance but not the win. Expecting both in the first match would have been ridiculous. England didn't play well, lacking fluency, potentcy and vision but they hung on to claim a lucky win. Scotland - well, what can you say. i feel extremely disappointed for the Coach but as for the players they brought matters up on themselves. Denton I felt really shone and if the other players could sync into his attitude and motiviations well, Scotland would be a winning side. They aren't right now. I didn't think any of the England players were exceptional - perhaps that will come - but time isn't necessarily on their side. I think they will beat Italy and lose to Wales, France and Ireland so how thye perform in these matches for me will be more important than a win. Well done Stuart Lancaster!

  • Comment number 20.

    Agree 100% with Dr John B in comment 9.

    Thought Cole, Robshaw, Foden, Palmer and Strettle all put their hand up last night.

    Youngs and Ashton both had stinkers, can't help feeling they're both on borrowed time - their past glories are far too short to give them any sort of grace period. One more game like that and they should be on the bench.

  • Comment number 21.

    Mike, post 6.

    'If Rennie had off loaded and Scotland scored as they should then the headlines for yesterday would have been quite different...'

    Well if my aunie had a pair, she'd be my uncle...

  • Comment number 22.

    Aunie? Auntie...

  • Comment number 23.

    Agree with #20. Very bad performances by Youngs & Ashton. Obviously only babies themselves in terms of experience however not sure how many more games like that they can have.

  • Comment number 24.

    Farce. This probably sums it up. I'm left wondering if I've been disillusioned over what I thought was a capable set of players or is the problem our coach? (he's had enough time with this set of *experienced* players).

    How many times do we need to witness school-boy rugby? Do you know what? - it's potentially worse than school-boy rugby - what about that time when the Scotland player needed to pass to his team mate within a timely manner only to smack straight into the opposing player and lose the chance. The answer? - he should have looked ahead and not just to his left (seems simple?).

    This is standard of rugby out there. I'm going to be radical (I'm not usually) - we need to drop most of the Scotland players, if not to show that they can't get away with that kind of performance. I'd also consider the coaching post.

    Should I give some more credit to England? Probably. They kept it cool. Inspirational it was not - but considering their relative lack of experience they did a reasonable job. I'm not sure what the England side has got to offer going forward.

    I don't think any Scot can cite Italy as default wooden spoon players any longer - it seems apparent that we are -at least- jointly in that position (although I am now worried about playing Italy). I'm seriously worried about the rest of the Six Nations competition (I sense England may too).

    I am a passionate Scot who loves my country (albeit I live in England!) who will continue to support our rugby team forever. Please someone get to the bottom of the problem though - this can't go on.

  • Comment number 25.

    #8 You can't have watched that many rugby games! There have been worse games in this fixture alone over the past few years.

  • Comment number 26.

    @ 24: the same solution you propose for Scotland ("drop the lot" sort of) is precisely what England have done ... but you might want to wait a year of so and see how it works out for us ;-)

    Really interesting article last week stating the real problem with Scotland is not the payers but the lack of a really decent Scottish coach (no offense AR) and that should be the first thing to fix; I can't help but agree because Scotland have been poor for a decade now and I don't see it as a player problem, more of a coaching problem. An earlier post said Scotland looked "over coached" .. sound familiar England supporters?

  • Comment number 27.

    Well it's a win, end of comment look forward to more debate next week... Only joking.

    What a proper 6 Nations game between the 2 oldest rugby enemies who have been knocking lumps out of each other since about the year 2000BC, personally I really enjoyed it just for the pure intensity of the occasion.

    One thing I was very impressed with for England was the discipline (despite Robshaw's pen, screaming my head off over that one). Many an English regime previous to this i've seen so many silly penalties given away in kickable distance and it was refreshing to see a bit of restraint, little things. I think the scrum showed parity on the whole, maybe a little dominance at times (how Clancy pinged Hartley for standing up when it was Ford doing the cork impression I don't know but there we go). Thought Botha had a big game, threw himself round the park, and i'd agree with Dr_John_B that Morgan seemed to very much stake a claim in his 15 odd minutes.

    As for Scotland, I think you have every right to be gutted, the fact of the matter is you played better than us and if only some balls had stuck you would have pulled off a great win. It just appears that the threatened 20 minutes of chaos was an anti-climax, it was more the last 20 minutes were the ones to get the victory. Good to see you can take that boy Denton away as a chink of light, a indomitable display (If only he couldn't have found an English grandma ey? :P ).

    All in all Scotland, as all have stated, will be ruing missed chances. And for England, like the coach, an honest display even though they had to scrape past a better opposition. Hopefully next week, without the raft of debuts and having had an extra week together, we might see a bit more expansion. Lets just hope Rome isn't still blanketed!

  • Comment number 28.

    @26: I think you might be right about our coach. I was being quite hard on the players and I must admit I'm swaying towards the problem being our coach because deep down I still believe the team that went out to the pitch yesterday has a lot of potential.

  • Comment number 29.

    As an englishman, I am very happy this morning. WE WON. Not pretty but then it never is against a naff wasteful scotland side. I will take a win at murryfield. 7 debuts for england and we won.

    I started yesterday saying Scotland will win, all I wanted to see was a positive england performance. Ok our attack was a lacking. But we have new players learning how there team mates play. Games against scotland are always very defensive affairs. England have proved they have great defensive, although the line was breached a few times, that will solidify with experience.

    I have to say the star performers for me were Robshaw, Botha and Barrit, defending like demons, even strettle put in some damn fine hits. Next week i want to see attacking rugby. We have proved we can defend, next week attack get the back three in more.

    I will hold my hands up and scotland has some stand out players, Denton was fabulous and has a great future. Why the team destroyer ROBINSON insists on playing parks is beyond me. You look next week you will have 7 changes at least and will wonder why you lose again. You wanna win drop Robinson.

  • Comment number 30.

    As a borderer with feet and family in both camps I'm trying to be objective. As a Scotland supporter, what on earth is going wrong, I see junior sides week in week out showing more composure when the try line looms. Denton did look good. Not much more I can say without ranting. For England I thought Morgan looked promising for the brief spell he was on and Strettle looked sharp as ever (why has he not got more caps?). Foden was threatening in attack and stable in defence. But all in all there wasn't much there either.
    I think our Welsh, Irish and French colleagues will not be quaking in their boots at the prospect of playing either of these teams. Unfortunately I suspect the Italians will be looking forward to Scotland.
    I was really looking forward to the 6N and I'm scunnered already.

  • Comment number 31.

    Mr. Davies says that it was possibly the worst game of rugby he's ever watched. Hasn't he seen Scotland v England before?

  • Comment number 32.

    @29: Please don't get me started on Parks! His performance was so woeful and I was looking for him to come off before half time - only to see what he did with that kick in the second half! Ah!

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    It's interesting to hear Lancaster talk about this was a good result given the players have only been together for 9 days.... This isn't technically true.... 4 of our back line play together week in, week out at Sarries, in fact only two of the starting xv came from outside the Premierships top 4 clubs, so it's surprising to see just how little attacking cohesion there was.
    However it's important to squeeze the positives out of yesterday's performance, the scrum performed very well, Botha & Robshaw in particular were excellent in the tight, Barrett ( who will no doubt lose his place when Tuliagi is back) tackled anything that moved in midfield and Foden tried his best to get us some go forward on the counter attack.
    But the biggest change I saw yesterday from the "Johnson" era was the vastly improved discipline. Despite being without the ball for vast periods yesterday England showed great control at the breakdown on the floor to not give away stupid penalties in kickable range.
    If they can build cohesion in the next week on attacking play and improve the line out, England might just surprise.

  • Comment number 35.

    As an England fan of many, many years, this game was no different to many calcutta matches I have seen before. Scotland were poor, England not much different.

    Several things need mentioning though. England conceded very few penalties, which for me is a massive step in the right direction. They blooded god knows how many new faces in a test match atmosphere that appeared quite hostile and they stood firm.

    Youngs needs to go, end of. Dickson looked nippy when he came on so give him a go. Despite scoring a try Hodgson is garbage and when Tuilagi is back, it should be him and Barritt in the centre. Barritt was quite immense in defense. Dowson had a stinker and Morgan looked like a no8 who actually makes ground from scrums. Use him, we have not had a no8 like that since god knows, if ever.

    Good start.

    P.s Robinson needs the boot. No good as Eng or Sco coach.And that was never a try in a million years. How it took the official so long to decide was embarrassing and totally unprofessional.

  • Comment number 36.

    So England Won. Not really Scotland lost this game through lack of precision in the England 22. As a proud Englishman I was surprised by the scrum where for big periods they out scrummaged the bigger more experienced Scots and thought the whole team tackled and defended as though their very lives depended on it. Apart from that I cant think of too many positives. The centre pairing showed nothing in attack, so not able to relese a dangerous back 3. Why oh why wasn't Toby Flood at least on the bench. Watch out England tougher tests lie ahead. France, Ireland and Wales all have players capable of punching holes in the tightest defence.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    I didn't see this supposed shocker from Youngs... I saw one poor kick, a couple of very good kicks, a couple of average passes and some excellent quick ball, particularly in the first half.

    I was also impressed with the breakdown. From what I had heard, Rennie was apparently going to be the first to every one, resulting in numerous penalties or turnovers, and yet the first half in particular was excellent from an English perspective. Felt sorry for Dowson - waited for so long and really looked very nervous. Ben Morgan, in two carries, showed why he is the future at No.8.

    And yes, I felt proud of the English effort, discipline and obvious unity when watching what was, in truth, a pretty terrible game.

  • Comment number 39.

    Can't see Ireland, France or Wales quaking in their boots after this one!

    Justice done with the Laidlaw "try". After all, he was holding Youngs back by the shoulders as they crossed the line, so Robbo can chunter as much as he likes!

    Things can only get better - for both sides!

  • Comment number 40.


    Morgan needs to be in now. Dowson is 30 = not one or the future. If Morgan gets slapped around by pareise ( excuse the spelling) so be it. He will learn and progress with the rest of a young team. Good enough = old enough = let him play

  • Comment number 41.

    In sPort there is always an occasion where a team under the cosh digs in and pulls out an unlikely result. That's what this young side did yesterday and I feel a lot of pride in that fact, and I haven't felt pride in the team for some years.

    Yes there were embarrassing errors by Scotland but there was also immense defence and discipline by England. Scots need to look at Robinson as a coach, we've been there and could offer some advise!

    It is what it is, a positive start! No one is getting carried away and the sterner stuff is to come, Italy included, and we should look to make progress.

    Team-wise the front 5 stood up well against a supposed superior unit, robshaw looked a good skipper, the Saracens midfield did well and Fodenis developing into a leader.

    On the negative, Youngs and Ashton cannot continue in this form and Dowson looked totally out of his depth.

    We are rebuilding and we won. We were poor and we need to develop a game plan. Well done to the coaches and players, Italy next.

  • Comment number 42.

    I wouldn't be getting excited. England had a very fortunate try, and Scotland were equally unfortunate not to get theirs. This was thrown away by the Scots in spectacular fashion, not won by the English. I think all the other teams will hammer the English.

  • Comment number 43.

    Fantastic win! Scotland were rubbish, and played the way they accused England of playing, boring rugby devoid of ideas.

    Scrum got demolished in spite of continually going in early, ball coming out yawningly slow to a back line with no idea. Poor handling, continual knocks on culminating in begging for a try that brushed a jersey, because there was no other way they were going to get one. Yeah they unleashed chaos alright!

    The whingeing bitterness of Robinson is palpable............and hilarious. He's on his way out now.

    Well done England, a scratch team with lots of work to do. We'll take our losses on the chin, but right now........great win!

    And who was the numpty who predicted Corbisiero would get his head pushed up his jacksie?

    Disappeared like a Scotish scrum!

  • Comment number 44.


    Not bitter at all there kid?

  • Comment number 45.

    Cardiffblueblood post 37. Nice to see you have won the game before it has even started.
    I understand the Scottish have lots of surplus Scotland Calcutta Cup winners t shirts going cheap.
    England can defend and Scotland can't score trys I don't think we learnt much more last night. I saw a Wales team struggle to put three passes together at Twickenham last August yet six weeks later looked immense.
    England can only get better.

  • Comment number 46.

    Something that has been mostly overlooked because it was not there is the England penalty count.

    Under that kind of possession and territorial pressure the old England would have conceded double figure penalties in kickable positions, followed by yellow cards, and ultimately lost by the 15-points they had given away. This has often been the undoing of England since about 2005.

    A young and inexperienced team keeping its head like that for so long and being 'savvy' with the ref is probably the biggest plus point for England. Further, Scotland weren't able to get much quick ball so it wasn't as though England were not committing sufficiently at the breakdown, plus the raft on unforced errors by Scotland were contributed to by England's aggression around the park in, crucially, the right areas and at the right time.

    It looked like it might change as soon as Stevens was on but then look where his caps came from...!

    Well done England.

  • Comment number 47.

    "This was not a pretty spectacle. Neutrals across Europe watching from the sofa were probably off to the kitchen to make the half-time cuppa well before the first 40 minutes were up."

    Tom, people could have made a cuppa in the time it took Scotland to get the ball to their backs from the base of a ruck!

    And even when they do that, the back moves only involve running straight at the opposition, fumbling the ball or conceding penalties for obstruction.

  • Comment number 48.

    How did Scotland manage to lose yesterday. They held their own or dominated England in all facets of the the game with the exception of finishing where England made the most of every opportunity to score. In terms of attacking Scotland made several breaks which they fluffed, England made none of note.

    I was as disappointed with the England performance as much as I was the Scottish one. I expected more from the young players and England were lucky as there is no way that any of the other teams would blow all of the scoring opportunities that Scotland had, in fact they would probably create more. The charge down try came from good pressure but the bounce was fortunate to allow Hodgson to score, this was the only time that England looked like scoring. England need to shore up defensively to cease the breaks and look to start attacking more or they are going to suffer against Ireland, Wales and France. They will also find it very difficult in Rome next week as Italy will boss the forward play and through it the possession and territory. In fairness to the English players though they gave a good account of themselves considering the youth and lack of experience.

    I'm worried about Scotland coming to Cardiff next week as they will not have the same tension and expectation in the game and could run riot as they did two years ago. Wales will have to front up from the start as they will not have Shane to win it for them in injury time.

  • Comment number 49.

    Slightly saddened to see some England fans on here moaning about our lack of "expansive rugby". Yesterday morning I was fearing utter humiliation at the hands of the Scots, but (with a bit of luck, which every team needs now and then) a spirited England team that actually showed some pride, without arrogance, managed to hold out for a win.

    The English crowd who were up at Murrayfield certainly seemed appreciative of England's dogged performance as you could here them belting out 'Swing Low'.

    Particular stand-outs for me were: Brad Barrit, what a marvelous performance. Never before have I seen a player in an England shirt tackle himself into exhaustion. Owen Farrell, showed a real cool head and I was thoroughly impressed by 20 year old's performance. Owen Morgan, (as some have already mentioned) showed signs of being a class Number 8 with a couple of powerful runs. Will be interesting to see what happens with the return of Haskell! And finally Chris Robshaw, yes he gave away a penalty and yes he threw a pass over Ashton's head, but what an effort he put in. For Robshaw, it must have been something of a 2nd debut but he loooked comfortable and assertive. Will he retain the captaincy when Tom Wood returns?

    For the Scottish faithful out there, what a frustrating evening. As some have already pointed out, I think that the problem lies with Robinson. It is surely not possible for a player to be class in a HC game and yet fail the next week to even pass to the man next to him. I thought Scotland deserved the win, but We'll take it!

  • Comment number 50.

    Andy Robinson really is a whiny coach. He's always got an excuse for losing (usually the referee) but he doesn't get any closer to winning. He's got to know he's on the way out.

  • Comment number 51.

    Under the circumstances, a tremendous result.

    Up at Murrayfield, with such an inexperienced team and after a terrible World Cup...Robinson must've thought he'd never get a better chance to put one over on England. You could easily read between the lines in his comments leading up to this match that he was convinced Scotland would win, or perhaps more importantly to Robinson a chance to metaphorically thumb his old employers in the eye.

    That his own side would fail to hold their composure against several novices must be extremely frustrating to him.

  • Comment number 52.

    @48: you weren't really watching the game then were you - didn't you see Denton's try saving tackle on Strettle that would have seen him race under the posts for a 20-6 scoreline? Perhaps you'd nipped out to "make the half time cuppa" too ...

  • Comment number 53.

    Looks like Scott Johnson might be promoted to the Scotland head coach job before he arrives for the Summer Tour.

  • Comment number 54.

    @52: Sorry, I think my brain was numbed by a general lack of excitement by that time, and it bypassed my memory.

  • Comment number 55.

    @54: I think we can both agree that excitement is best reserved for Cardiff next week ;-) hope the result suits you better anyway!

  • Comment number 56.

    Under circumstances great result for England. We are obviously aware we will need to improve against Wales, Ireland, France and possibly Italy but good start.
    I must say i am finding it rather strange that no one on this blog has accused England of the being ARROGANT.

  • Comment number 57.

    I can't help feeling that Scotland are overcoached. They do on the field what they are coached to do on the training pitch. There was a sense of mechanisatation about Scotland. When they do score tries, its is because someone, somewhere has added some flair, something out of the ordinary, something noone expected, or simply as a result of a mistake. Scotland need the flair of David Johnston or Jim Renwick. Offer them some licence to play with flair. Don't have them coached into robots. Then we might score tries!

  • Comment number 58.

    The way in which we need to look at this performance is, we won at murrayfield with an underpowered and inexperienced team. This game proves that England have the nerve to win a tough game. At the end of the day a win is a win, as we all know the six nations doesnt produce the most flamboyant of rugby. But come the big games, playing in matches like this gives you the experience of 'winning ugly'. With the return of Lawes, Flood, Tuilagi and Wood I can see this team doing great things in about 2 years time.

  • Comment number 59.

    Surely England must be given some credit especially after the Saxons had been beaten 35-0 the previous evening. Everyone knew that the Scots gameplan would be to launch a storm of chaos at this inexperienced team: and yet England dominated the first 20 minutes of the game. It always looked as if the whole tide turned when Dowson made a schoolboy error failing to take the Scots kick-off when he was more or less under no pressure- apart perhaps from suddenly realising where he was after waiting so long. I wish Dowson well, but there were signs that he is no longer playing Number 8 week-in and week-out, and a Scottish pack is always going to be something of a baptism of fire.

    As it was that slip gave the Scots the chance to get established in the English half, and changed the momentum of the game.

    But- why on earth was Ashton in the position of first receiver for a defensive scrum? It is still very evident that he is still learning the Union game. Clearly something went wrong there. Perhaps too much responsibility has been devolved on Youngs because there was little sign of the snappiness and speed of thought that were his hallmark when he first burst on to the scene. England lost nothing when Dickson came on. And in fact the whole bench played well- though Stevens has still not really adapted to the change in the maulling laws that took place while he was banned, and Corbisiero could certainly teach him a thing or two in that respect.

    One mention for Chris Robshaw- a different kind of physicality to Moody- headless chicken. Robshaw's muscular intent was crucial in taking-it to the Scots, with Croft's strengths being complementary.

    In a way Murrayfield was very good preparation for Rome next week.

  • Comment number 60.

    It's difficult to understand why Scotland is still regarded as a 'top table' rugby nation. In yesterday's poor match England's performance was predictably limited as the team readjusts to enforced changes since the World Cup, but Scotland put out their usual, unique, error-strewn brand of rugby which does not seem to include the scoring of tries, something generally regarded as a key element in the game.

  • Comment number 61.

    Can't really complain about that. England did not play that well but, importantly, they did enough when it really mattered and, as a new group, can only improve through the tournament...especially when you consider the more experienced names returning from injury (although, as Stuart Lancaster says, they will have to prove that they're ready rather than just be thrown back in half-baked like before!).

    Scotland did fluff a number of chances, although that doesn't do much credit to the England defence, which was huge on occasions (as someone above has noted...had the roles been reversed the press would be waxing on about Braveheart etc etc). England's penetration with ball in hand still looked sluggish and the real speedsters had little chance to shine. England's inability to win any ruck possession was also worrying. Perhaps they have had it dinned into them not to give away penalties and paid the price in that it's virtually impossible, under the layers of endless new laws, to win ruck ball legally. As a result, Scotland had a veritable banquet of possession which was largely squandered.

    Despite the relative lack of experience and conceding several kg per man, I thought that the England scrum held up very well in the setpiece and there was no "massacre"as predicted by some pundits last week. The lineout, by contrast, clearly needs more work.

    Finally, if Scottish supporter really thinks that was a try then, applying the same standards, they should have no difficulty in concurring that England are the rightful 2007 world champions ;-)

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm glad Stevens' contribution has been mentioned: I too was worried when he came on, given his penalty count for his country recently, but he shored up the scrum & did well at the ruck - especially when he WON a penalty for us!

    I'm quite pleased with the result - not getting carried away, as Scotland really should have won, but the team & individual effort & the limited penalty count are steps in the right direction.

    Looking forward to watching Ireland v Wales this afternoon.

  • Comment number 63.

    As an England supporter it is obviously pleasing to see the amount of 'spirit' showed by the England players. However is it just me or shouldn't that be a given? You are playing for your country, at Murrayfield. That should be motivation enough to smash everything that moves.

    I thought Brad Barrit was immense in England's back line. Hodgeson should have a few lessons from Barrit on how to tackle properly, I.e low. Sorry but I'm not a big Hodgeson fan. Fair enough he's an experienced head in a relatively inexperienced backline but he just can't tackle. As an international ten, that is inexcusable. It means that his teammates have to work twice as hard to try and cover him. He also gives every coach in the world a target point. If you need some momentum, get your biggest runner i.e Denton, aim at Hodgeson, and watch two or three England players get sucked into the contact area to help him, thus creating more room on the outside.

    In terms of the Youngs situation, it looks like he's ridden the Australia performance far enough. One of England's main problems was a lack of quick, decent ball from rucks. Dickson is awesome for his club and is known for his ability to provide quick ball at the ruck; you have your solution.

    Ashton is a tricky one because he is a proven try scorer, and yesterday he wasn't THAT bad, the situation behind the scrum in the 22 was harsh, good pressure from Cusiter created the poor pass, but Ashton was a hairs width away from getting away, and who knows what would have happened. Either way, Sharples is a more than adequate replacement.

    Why Laidlaw wasnt introduced at halftime just baffles me. He looked a class apart from Parks, who was just dreadful. If he knows that he kicks with a low trajectory, he should stand deeper and give himself more time, Cusiter and Blair are good enough to hit him. A ten year old would know that.

    Finally Robinson should watch Lancaster and learn. I bet you any amount of money that if England had lost, Lancaster wouldn't have whined and moaned like Robinson. He has to face up to the fact that his team are incapable to complete simple two on ones that most under ten teams can accomplish pretty easily.

  • Comment number 64.

    #49, I agree with most of your post, although I don't see why so many people on this website have a fixation with Haskell. If England are looking to pick an England team based on athletic ability then he would be straight in, as would Varndell, but there is far more to playing at the top level than having pace and power.

    Also regarding your point about the Heineken Cup, despite the hype surrounding the HC, there is still a huge step up to international rugby. Looking good against a Bath or London Irish side containing 1 or 2 internationals is completely different to performing against an England side in front of 70k fans. Despite what Sky Sports keep telling us, HC is not the same or even close to the international game. The problem with Robinson is familiar to England fans, he is very good at coaching and selecting forwards (remember he built the 2003 England pack), but dire at selecting backs.

    It is easy to point at the Scotland forwards for failing to convert their breaks, but the question is why did Scotland offer nothing from 10 through to 15.

  • Comment number 65.

    The basic ball skills were atrocious from both sides. Rugby seems to be breeding these ‘Frankenstein’ like creatures. All muscle no skill. Take a look at the New Zealand back-row……..they could all get into the England side as centers!

  • Comment number 66.

    From a neutral corner, I think that England can take heart from a resilient if not 'pretty' performance. New faces, little time to gel and yet they still went into the cauldron that is Murrayfield and came away with a result. Lancaster will have learnt a few things about those who played and I expect a tweak here & there. Unlikley to win a Grand Slam at the moment but will cause problems to the other sides.

    Scotland .. what can one say? Their forwards were good but their backs lack any innovation .. individually they are decent players but, at the moment, they are unlikely to concern the defences of France, Ireland, etc. Another false dawn in the Highlands?


  • Comment number 67.

    How close are Scotland to being great is what robinson has to sort out as there is some good talent in both national and A squads. Focusing the anti English hatred into core skills will see this team come good against the remaining matches. Who from the A squad needs to be promoted to get over the try line and they would emerge as national heroes!

  • Comment number 68.

    The biggest things that caused Scotland to lose yesterday is something that's been a problem for years and years - clean handling and crossing the gain line. I lost count of the number of times the first two passes from a break-down resulted in the ball carrier being tackled behind the gain line.

    Surely the guys should be running from deep onto a lateral ball, not being fed backward-travelling passes that force them to slow down in order to take the ball cleanly.

    Also I wonder if Scotland have a dedicated handling coach? This has gone on for such a long time, it really does get to the point in games when I'm just waiting for the dropped pass. We can recycle ball through multiple phases, but it seems that when there's a great chance to score, the guys get something in their head that causes them to lose focus and drop the ball.

    Maybe the guys are so concerned with scoring a try that they become fixated on crossing the line and the confidence that they need to do it on a regular basis is missing.

    Perhaps our next autum tests should be against 3 weaker sides, just so our guys can get back into the try-scoring habit?

  • Comment number 69.

    A few things I noticed from watching yesterday:

    1) England's front 5 had a handful of caps between them, but shoved Scotland all over the place.

    2) England's discipline was better than I've seen it in about 10 years - maybe 20.

    3) England's 'played the ref' better than I've seen it in about 10 years - maybe 20.

    4) England were quite happy to let Scotland spend the second-half passing the ball sideways - they knew they would drop it / knock-on sooner or later. Good tactics.

    5) Farrell / Barrit - for uncapped centre duo - not too shabby a start?

    6) Murrayfield must have the most contrived pre-match build-up anywhere on Earth - you think the English are arrogant?!

    7) Watching this game reminded me of the 1988 encounter which ended 9-6 to England - if you didn't see it I promise you it made yesterday's match look like a classic! I always personally remember that win as one that set England off on the road that led to their successful period in the early to mid-nineties, with likes of Carling, Dooley, Richards, Winterbottom, Skinner and Moore really starting to make their mark.

  • Comment number 70.

    I thought England would be beaten and, let's face it, they should have been. Scotland (Denton, and possibly Cusiter, aside) were absolutely rubbish (what a shame...). Robinson should be driving a coach, not being one.

    BUT, let's look at the positives for England. Lancaster looks like he may have discovered those most precious commodities - team spirit and a bit of streetwise nous when needed. This new and untried England side was never going to play champagne rugby on a cold day at Murrayfield. What they needed to do was win and they did that - first time in 8 years let's not forget.

    Based on this game, Barrit, Botha, Farrell, Morgan, Dickson all look promising. Keep Hodgson in to play alongside Farrell short term (until Flood fit) and then put Farrell at 10 when he has a few games under his belt. Jordan-Hall also worth a run out at centre. Strettle always been worth picking but for injuries. Foden looked class - not easy in this game.

    Ashton and Youngs - not sure why people being so hard on them based on this game. It is only 12 months since they were the being lauded. Ashton won't look good until the whole back line is working and that will take time. Good for him long term not to find life quite so easy but he is a class finisher when given the chance.

    I agree that Wales, Ireland and France should beat us but you never know.

  • Comment number 71.

    The first week of the Six Nations is always a bit unpredicatble. Some teams are 'under done' while others start fast and get progressively worse through the tournament (i.e England last year). An an England fan you have to be delighted with the result and the way that the young team kept their heads when faced with wave after wave of Scottish attack.

    From a Scots point of view it must be massively dissappointing to see the same old same old errors and lack of composure.

    On to next week and I think a few changes are needed for England. Dowson is not the future and Morgan looked a better bet at 8. Ben Youngs had a mediocre game and needs to know that he's not a shoe in, so Dickson to start at 9 and Youngs on the bench. I know that Stevens on the bench gives us more versatility but he's not an international standard loose head, he should only be considered at 3.

  • Comment number 72.

    Another thing to comment on...Andy Robinson was being very negative by picking Parks (same as England playing Wilko at the WC). Very one dimensional and offers nothing but his kicking. AR stated that he was picking a team solely to win that match and it backfired because Parks had a very poor game. Maybe we'll see a bit more enterprise in Cardiff next week. Scotland need to play like Edinburgh.

  • Comment number 73.

    Very disappointing display from both sides yesterday. England were VERY lucky to get the try they did (although, once again, Dan Parks costing us the win, I just hope Jackson gets better soon...), Scotland missing out by millimetres on a try (although I do think it was, personally). A few refereeing calls gone the wrong way, but still...

    My biggest gripe with that is Ross Rennie: What on earth was he thinking about? To my mind he cannot possibly have been thinking about Rugby, possibly distracted by a gust of wind? That is something I'd be disappointed to see from an under-13's side, let alone the national team.

    To all the posters saying we should do what England did and replace the whole team: We can't. England have so many more available players who are on form and might/did do better than other choices, but Scotland don't have the same options.

    Still can't figure out for the life of me how our attacking coach is still in a job...

  • Comment number 74.

    Fewer penalties, a robust defence and a decent win against a Scottish side that huffed and puffed but ultimately offered little.

  • Comment number 75.

    @73: point taken, but do the other thing England did then ... change the Coach ;-)

  • Comment number 76.

    No idea how Scotland didn't win that yesterday. Their finishing and composure was pretty abject at times. Denton and Grey looked good when they cut loose to be fair.

    Good claustrophic off-the-ball pressure exerted by England, but we didn't offer a whole heap more than the Scots with the ball in hand, arguably less.

    Farrell was composed on the kicks, Foden was assured under the bomb. Nice to see the more stupid defensive penalties cut out as a whole, but with no disrespect to Scotland, we'll need to play better teams than the Scots to know if they're gone for good. Good chasing for the try by Hodgeson, but he didn't offer an awful lot more than that for me even with the placekicking pressure taken off him.

    So maybe not the most impressive performance ever seen, but it's Scotland away and a relatively inexperienced International side with some pretty young players and a win is a win is a win. The defence stands up against second tier teams, on this showing. I'm looking forward to seeing a bit more of this hinted at attacking flair and intent next week vs Italy, conditions allowing, as I expect we'll be on the back foot more often than not for the games to come after that.

  • Comment number 77.

    @61: There are images on the internet if you're bothered to look showing that the player was off the pitch and the ball still in the air, whereas with this try, the ball was clearly stopped by Laidlaw's hand, meaning downward pressure must have been applied, but you can go on thinking you won that final if you want...

  • Comment number 78.

    I feel that scotland are a bit of confidence away from becoming a good side. There's talent there with the likes of gray, denton, evans and laidlaw. I thought they played quite well in the second half, but the luck ran with england.

    equally, england did quite well with a scratch side.

    all those going on about wales, ireland and france are blowing those threats out of proportion. They're not new zealand, nothing like. I'd be surprised if scotland and england aren't competitive against them.

  • Comment number 79.

    Aitchin, you are quite right.

    In the 6N so much depends on momentum - had the Scots won yesterday, I'd be tipping them to upset Ireland and Wales.

    Similarly, if England beat Italy they will have momentum, and given that Ireland and Wales have to travel to Twickenham and that Stade de France has never held any particular fears for the English, then who knows?

    If England lose to Italy it'll be back to square one of course. This is what makes the Lancaster regime so intriguing.

    I was fully expecting England to lose yesterday. I haven't seen an England side in such a position as underdogs since the 1980s. It's actually exciting.

    One thing underlining my thinking - when was the last time anyone saw an England team actually celebrate after the first match of the 6 nations? Or any match in the 6 nations? Must be a good few years. Was great to see, in every respect.

  • Comment number 80.

    @77: there are many pictures on the Internet, many of which I wouldn't expect you to believe. The match referee and 2 assistants didn't think it was a try, the TMO looked at it 6 or 7 times and concluded it wasn't a try (sadly he probably didn't have access to pictures on the Internet at the time) and I - like many - looked at it again and again and concluded his hand was forward of the ball and not pressurizing downwards. close, but no try. and to focus on that misses a wider point: Scotland could have won but didn't, England should have lost but didn't; Scotland haven't changed anything and are getting the same result (madness?), England have changed everything ... and we're all waiting to see what we get .. but i doubt it'll be the wooden spoon now which is more than can be said of Scotland right now ..

  • Comment number 81.

    Any team that cannot beat that England team of yesterday, with the amount of possession Scotland had should NOT be being paid to play rugby. Every year I think that a turning point in Scottish Rugby is sure to come soon, and every year I'm wrong. These guys are "professionals". A doctor displaying that level of ineptitude could kill you.

  • Comment number 82.

    A lot of the comments here show a real lack of understanding about top level competition. New Zealand are World Champions but did not deserve to win in the final. That does not stop them being the best side in the world. England did not deserve to win yesterday but they did - with a young, inexperienced side that had never played together before. Saying that they would have lost to other better sides is completely irrelevant. International sport is about taking your chances and winning. Period. Saying that Wales would have put 50 points on them is pretty much the dumbest comment I've seen in a long while. England have started on a long road. they look to have a good attitude, good discipline and were getting better as the match went on.

    I would suggest that those posters bemoaning the lack of England cohesiveness and fluent running rugby get a better knowledge of the game before they make stupid comments.

  • Comment number 83.

    They jury's out on England, judge them in 7 week's time, they did enough to win the opening game and that's all this new team could be expected to do. Scotland on the other hand were true to form. The players lack quality and you have to suspect from the A team result on Friday that England got their selection right whereas Scotland did not. The seeds of their own destruction were sown in the Scottish centre selection. The problem for me lies with the coaches; Robinson looks and sounds like a coach with his own, negative agenda and he lacks the emotional detachment needed to separate emotion from performance. Is Scott Johnson the answer? Did he manage to get the Ospreys to play to their potential?

  • Comment number 84.

    I dont want to sound negative but England did not offer anything in attack. If Hodgson is and I quote Stuart Barnes "the best passing Fly Half in the British game" then we have a serious problem in our game. The defence had to defend too narrow, because of Hodgson's defensive frailty, which will result in a better drilled side running riot. The side lacked and I hate to say it Brian Smiths attacking adventure and did not really create a chance. We played slightly better than a badly playing Scotland side. The backrow balance showed just how far backwards the game in England has gone with coaches seeing size and defence as the key issue. Playing with three sixes wasn't bright and against a team that basically tries to cause chaos then a true seven would have been the better option - Saul not sure what the guy has done to Lancaster but the game was crying out for someone of his ability. Picking Dowson was the same as Johnson picking Tindall - the comfy pair of slippers. Morgan was a bright spot and should start against Italy. Until injured players return I'd be tempted to put Croft in the Second Row move Robshaw to 6 and then bring in a true 7. Faster ball to release the backs that didn't do too much wrong.

  • Comment number 85.

    Reading some of the comments from Scotland supporters about Laidlaw's 'try' would you like to change the rules so that Scotland get awarded a try if one of their players simply happens to be in the goal area at the SAME time as the ball - perhaps that might give you more of chance?

  • Comment number 86.

    Well done chaps.It's a good start. Don't let the doomsayers get you down. It was your first gane together under a new coach and all you deserve praise for the way you weathered the storms.

  • Comment number 87.

    Here's a potential solution for Scotland's lack of flair in midfield, assuming you continue with the same xv. Why not play Evans at inside centre when attacking and move Lamont or De Luca on to the wing in his stead? Then on defence switch it back. At the very least I think the side should mix it up more. Evans looked like the only player on the pitch capable of throwing a step and beating his man on Saturday, why not exploit his attacking flair more often?

  • Comment number 88.

    Oh and one more thing, is Lancaster play Barritt at 13 with Farrell at 12 purely to emphasise that he is not just playing the same way as Saracens? Surely if he's going to play a Sarries midfield then play them as they have done successfully for Saracens, a la Ireland do when they play Sexton, D'arcy, Drico. If something is proven to work then what is the need to change it? Surely when you have a "superior" pack, 9 and back 3 this successful midfield trio will be even more dangerous as they will have better service and better finishers outside them.

  • Comment number 89.

    #84 I agree that Dowson was a slightly odd choice, given that his form has dropped a bit this season. I can understand why Lancaster might have been nervous about picking a young player like Morgan at 8, but if he was determined to have an older head, then it should have been Easter, who is not much older than Dowson, and is proven at international level.
    Moving Croft into the second row might leave England slightly under-powered, but England have an interesting dilema in the back row when Wood returns.

    Also a bit harsh on Hodgson, he gave the impression that his defence has improved, and it is hard to be creative when the side are not getting much ball. Given that he is basically keeping the shirt warm for Toby Flood, he is probably the right choice.

    The obvious changes are Morgan for Dowson, and possibly Dickson for Youngs. Youngs is dangerous when the side are going forward, but he doesn't inspire confidence when the team are on the back foot.

  • Comment number 90.

    No 20 hermmy - totally agree with you on Ben Youngs - I don't really know what's happened to his game - slow pass, no telling breaks, wrong decision making and this aimless kicking from the base of the scrum - if he does that just once more - just once - he should be out!

    And OK, in the grand international scheme of things England has a huge distance to go and yesterday they rode their luck, but I saw something yesterday - "We're not winning this match but we're going to do everything we can together to make sure you don't win" - the last time I saw that in an England Team was in the lead up to the 2003 WRC!

  • Comment number 91.

    Scotland it seems were not able to call upon their main weapon, the dire weather they normally call up whenever England visit.

    To be fair, Denton looked the business, a real one for the future.

    I'm happy with a win in a traditionally tough fixture with a virtually scratch side.

  • Comment number 92.

    a suggestion for the Scottish RFU regarding those t shirts - "wooden spoon" has the same number of letters as "Calcutta Cup", maybe they could get them blanked out and reprinted
    just a thought.

  • Comment number 93.

    Scotland should have won, they were the better team.

    However they gifted the win to England.

    England were their usual boring selves, no imagination, no penetration, no spark.

    France, Wales and Ireland will show them up for what they are.

  • Comment number 94.

    Why why why why why do we insist on playing Dan Parks. Can he do anything other than hoof a ball in the air and he doesn't do that very well. Go and look over past games. If Chris was on the field we were giving a fair account of ourselves, replace him with Dan and the whole game falls apart. Where was Mr Vernon yesterday he would have been a huge asset.

  • Comment number 95.

    Why pick a kicking fly-half and not play for territory?

    Couldn't understand why we were trying to run the ball rather than putting it into the corners and putting pressure on the shaky English line-out.

    Didn't think there was any intensity from Scotland in defense or chasing kicks, we should have been trying to put maximum pressure on England in every facet of games but we didn't.

    Very disappointing.

    For next week:

    Jacobson, Ford, Cross, Gray, Hamilton, Strokosch, Rennie, Denton

    Blair, Laidlaw, Evans, Lamont, De Luca, Lamont, Hogg

  • Comment number 96.

    A really poor game, Scotlands inability to finish cost them dearly though they have unearthed a gem at number 8. Hopefully Morgan will get a longer stint on the field in the next game. England appeared to have little real ambition going forward so hard to judge how things will move on. However when set against some of the recent Heineken Cup matches it was dismal. There has to be more to the 6 nations than emotional singing (or mouthing in the case of the foreign imports), pitch logo's and music blaring at every opportunity.

  • Comment number 97.

    great bulldog spirit but sadly no invention or skill from england,let,s hope the team can blow the cobwebs away with that performance and improve greatly. they need to!

  • Comment number 98.

    The biggest worry from England's point of view was the "missed tackle" count - 14 and they got away with it every time!

  • Comment number 99.

    Even if Laidlaw did have downward pressure on the ball, he had already jumped on Ben Youngs back; therefore he had tackled a player without the ball so should have been a penalty to England. No way was it a try and was amazed the video ref took so long to decide.

  • Comment number 100.

    Dr John. My comments re Hodgson really stemmed around the way defensively England had to align to 'cover' him. There seemed to be a lack of confidence in his definsive ability from the mangement - it must have come from there as England have never previoulsy defended so narrow so it must have come from the style of play manual. I do agree that he didn't get much ball and Youngs is to blame there - wrong choices. He seems to be experiencing a long second season syndrome - I feel he thinks too much about his game now where before he trusted his instincts. I stand by my Croft for second row comment as with the quality outside the '10' we should be looking to get the ball from scrum to 12 as quickly as possible there shouldn't be too much of a need to have an over powered engine room if it isn't required - also if the 8 pushed rather than hang around a bit that would help too! Scrums are restarts and are not normally used for penalty offences and as the laws for the front row seem to benefit the weaker scrummaging teams England may prove to better off having a motoring second row pairing than a grunting pairing. Croft and Lawes vs Palmer & Deacon.


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