Owen Farrell puts the boot in to round off a fine Calcutta Cup thrash


If Billy Twelvetrees caught the eye, the man of the match award went to Owen Farrell. Take away the flat vowels and the dropped aitches and Farrell could be Jonny Wilkinson.

The England fly-half kicked 18 points in this pulsating Six Nations opener, smashed into every tackle as if it were his last and strung the pass of the day off his right hand to send Geoff Parling across the line.

Farrell brings a blunt Lancastrian honesty to the play. The fantasy is there, but it does not come before getting the basics right. Scotland brought a significant degree of nuisance to this fixture, evidenced by the opening try from Sean Maitland, a typically extravagant break after a mistake by Mike Brown, and Stuart Hogg's second-half larceny after another error from the unfortunate Brown.

It was the assured kicking of the 21-year-old son of Wigan that squeezed the life from Scotland's early enthusiasms and earned England the right to be patient.

"It's important to keep the scoreboard ticking over," said Farrell. "The boys work hard to get these penalties and it's important to reward them by kicking them over.

"We played with real pace and tempo and I thought the intensity was good. But we can be hard on ourselves as well. There are plenty of things to work on."

Twelvetrees sounds like a myth from the Australian outback, a wandering force of nature capable of surviving in any conditions.

He did more than survive here. There cannot be many more daunting debuts in sport than a Calcutta Cup thrash, even against a Scotland team none would describe as vintage, yet Twelvetrees settled on the Twickenham baize like a seasoned vet.

The subtle change of pace, clever lines and knowing availability swept Twelvetrees into the centre of the narrative. He capped his display with a fine try, but it was his demeanour from the off that stood out. Sir Clive Woodward likened him beforehand to Will Greenwood for his ability to find the gap, to insinuate his way across the gain line.

He filled the comparison admirably, to such a degree the head coach Stuart Lancaster has a selection dilemma in Dublin. Manu Tuilagi is a specimen all his own, but perhaps no longer at inside centre after this showing.

"It was nice to get on the scoreboard. It hasn't really sunk in yet," Twelvetrees said. "It was a bit frantic, the first 20 minutes. I was getting a bit of a blow on.

"I just wanted to get my hands on the ball. It was awesome to get out there and play in front of a great Twickenham crowd today. I just wanted to do the same as I do for Gloucester every weekend.

"As a youngster I always wanted to score a try for England at Twickenham. Luckily I have done that. It's a tick in the box.

"The boys said get your hands on the ball and get you first carry in as early as possible.

"That's what I did. It is just rugby after all. Luckily a lot of the calls went through me. Looking forward to next week now."

The Scotland coach Scott Johnson accepted that the better team won. "We put England under some pressure in the first half and when most teams are under pressure they get a bit wobbly.

"You have to dominate more collisions than not. Unfortunately today we didn't put them under enough pressure often enough.

He concluded: "It just goes to prove that when we get it right we look pretty good and when we get it wrong we're getting punished for it."


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