Six Nations: England crush Scotland in Calcutta Cup clash
Last Updated: 08/02/14 10:17pm
Luther Burrell: The centre scored England's first-half try
England were totally dominant as they ran out 20-0 winners over Scotland in the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield.
The visitors would surely have won by more but for the dreadful state of the pitch, which clearly had an impact on Owen Farrell's goalkicking.
The Saracens fly-half missed three penalties he would usually expect to slot over, but he did convert tries in each half from Luther Burrell and Mike Brown as well as kicking a straightforward three-pointer.
Danny Care also contributed with a typically audacious first-half drop-goal.
Scotland barely threatened England's line throughout the 80 minutes, with Greig Laidlaw's two first-half penalty misses the closest they came to troubling the scoreboard.
It is the first time since 1978 that Scotland have been kept scoreless at Murrayfield against England.
Apart from their inability to finish off more of their try-scoring chances, it was hard to fault an intelligent England display in which the pack excelled.
Billy Vunipola was a monster at number eight, Jonny May showed no discomfort from his broken nose as he tormented the Scots and the half-back combination of Farrell and Care impressed once again.
Nothing positive could be said about Scotland or their pitch, however.
The dire state of the pitch was evident as early as the fifth minute when Farrell slipped on his run-up to take a penalty and the kick drifted wide.
Care was more successful with a sweetly-struck drop-goal and by the 15th minute the lead had been extended to 10 points as Burrell capitalised on weak defending to score a try converted by Farrell.
Care delayed his pass cleverly after England had driven forward from a line-out and Burrell's line was perfect, but the ease with which the Saints centre breached the whitewash was worrying for the Scots.
The underdogs' hopes of producing an unexpected victory were not helped by Laidlaw, who sent two penalties wide.
Farrell was on target with his third attempt, however, and by the half-hour mark England, playing smart and effective rugby, had powered 13-0 ahead.
A scrum had to be moved to a less damaged area of the pitch, which was covered in large patches of mud, and the statistic of the 13 penalties being awarded by referee Jerome Garces told the story of a dour first half.
Muscular outside centre Burrell almost crossed seconds before the interval after combining with Farrell, but was hauled down just short of the line when England should have scored.
Despite winning only his second cap, Burrell continued to demonstrate international class with a midfield break, but he could have done with straightening the line before feeding May.
Tempers flared in the 46th minute and it was Courtney Lawes who received a warning from Garces, although it appeared to be Tom Wood who provided the initial provocation.
May made two eye-catching breaks, the second of which came after a terrific offload from Vunipola who had committed three defenders before slipping the ball out of the tackle.
A brief Scottish surge was ended by a dropped pass and England remained in full control as Brown showed trademark tenacity and strength to burst into space, before crossing in the 59th minute.
It was Nowell who did the initial damage as he danced between tackles, sped forward and fed Brown. Stuart Hogg blocked his path but in a one-on-one battle there was only one winner and Farrell converted.
Stuart Lancaster was criticised for his replacement strategy against France and he waited until the last 11 minutes before bringing on fresh legs in any numbers.
Centre Alex Dunbar had been sent to the sin bin for killing the ball as England attacked, but the visitors were unable to take advantage of the extra man by adding any further points as they completed a comfortable win.