You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need. Consigned to the undercard on Six Nations Dénouement Day, Martin Johnson's England managed to summon sufficient attacking clout to get the points they required to finish their campaign with winning momentum. It was not quite the champagne stuff that engulfed the French to the tune of 34-10 the previous Sunday but there was enough fizz to see off the Scots and dampen – if not exactly drown – the memory of the fitful, ill-disciplined form that left Steve Borthwick clutching only the Crackerjack Pencil of the Calcutta Cup on prize-giving day.
Once again, Riki Flutey was responsible for much of the sparkle. The man from Wairarapa claimed his fourth try of the championship and kept orchestrating away in midfield even when those around him were struggling to get their attacking notes in order. Ten years after helping his native land win the Under-19 World Championship in Wales, it seems increasingly likely that the Wasps centre will be a Kiwi in Lions' clothing in South Africa this summer.
Not that Flutey was the only star of the show yesterday. Ugo Monye thwarted Thom Evans with as cracking a try-saving tackle as Twickenham is ever likely to see, and the Harlequins wing also plundered his first international try. There was a late score for Mathew Tait, too, after it had all gone rather flat for England in the second half.
"That last try didn't come for a long time, but it was good that the guys had to play for 80 minutes to get the comfort score," Johnson reflected. "We lacked a bit of a cutting edge in the second half but the guys stuck in there, kept their composure and finished well." As for the Scots, they started well, buckled in the second quarter, then pegged their way halfway back to respectability before tasting their customary Twickenham defeat.
It is 26 years now since they last won at England's HQ. All 12 Scotland points came from the boot, the order of which Frank Hadden can now expect to receive on the back of a third successive Six Nations campaign with just one win. Not that Scotland's head coach was volunteering to accept it in the aftermath. "Obviously there will be a period of reflection and a review process," was as far as Hadden was prepared to go.
The second-last Scottish win here, a 16-15 triumph in 1971, was achieved with the help of a try-scoring contribution from Duncy Paterson, and it was his nephew who got the scoreboard ticking yesterday. Chris Paterson landed a ninth-minute penalty and Scotland very nearly landed a five-point blow two minutes later.
Twice an English schools' sprint finalist in his youth, Thom Evans left a trail of vapour as he picked up the ball from the back of a ruck on the Scotland 10-metre line and set off up the left flank. Unfortunately for the younger Evans brother, Monye happens to be something of a speed merchant too – a rival of Mark Lewis-Francis in his younger days – and the Harlequin shot across from his wing, lassoing Evans five metres short of the whitewash. Sadly for the Scots, that was about as good as it got. It got better for Monye, though, and for England, despite the disruption caused by the stretcher-borne departure of Harry Ellis, who took a hefty whack on the head but was later seen smiling on the home bench. Monye was smiling too after showing his strength and balance to finish off a width-of-the-pitch attack in the left corner.
It was Monye's first try for his country and it might have been followed by a raft more for England as Scotland's defence performed a Tommy Cooper, disappearing just like that. To be fair, the combined efforts of Paterson, Mike Blair and Scott Gray stopped Tom Croft in the left corner.
But then, on the half-hour, Flutey ghosted through Paterson, Phil Godman and Jason White to claim his third try in two games for his adopted country.
With two penalties from Paterson and one from Godman, the Scots cut the gap to 18-12 by the 67th minute. Not that there was to be any winning overture for Hadden and his side. First Ellis's rep-lacement, Danny Care, knocked over a drop goal. Then, with two minutes left on the clock, Delon Armitage fed Tait on the overlap in the left corner. Not that England's Calcutta silver lining had ever been in any serious doubt.Reuse content