England storm past Scotland to retain Six Nations crown and equal New Zealand's record unbeaten run

England 61 Scotland 21: Eddie Jones' men cruised past the visitors to secure back-to-back Championships for the first time since Sir Clive Woodward's 2001 side

Hugh Godwin
Saturday 11 March 2017 18:59
England went 18 games unbeaten with another win at Twickenham
England went 18 games unbeaten with another win at Twickenham

Jonathan Joseph’s hat-trick of tries helped a rampant England retain the Six Nations title with one match to spare, and Dylan Hartley’s men now go to Ireland next Saturday aiming to complete a first back-to-back Grand Slam since Will Carling’s side of 1991 and 1992

It is the first time England have captured the Championship in successive seasons since 2000 and 2001, and in doing so they equalled New Zealand’s world record of 18 winning Test matches on the spin, with 17 of them under Australian head coach Eddie Jones.

It may not yet be the sustained pomp of 1991 to 2003, when England held the Five/Six Nations title in seven years out of 13, but here at Twickenham, on the warmest day of 2017 so far, the crowd was more than happy to take it.

Joe Launchbury celebrates after driving over with Billy Vunipola

Delirious might be a better way to out it - and anyone without a ticket for Dublin in seven days’ time was frantically thinking up ways to get across the water and call in a few favours, as Scotland never remotely threatened to upset the English applecart.

Any hopes the Scots had of laying hands on the Triple Crown for the first time since 1990, and wresting the Calcutta Cup back after its nine years in England’s possession, were pretty much over by half-time, after a calamitous collection of Scottish mishaps and a scintillating series of scores by the home side.

The first savage wound to Scotland was self-inflicted when their hooker Fraser Brown went to the sin bin in the second minute for a tip tackle on England wing Elliot Daly.

Daly landed on his back, but he needed a head injury assessment and would only be able to resume for another six minutes before being replaced by Anthony Watson.

Ben Youngs in action for England

Scotland were much more heavily hit as star full-back Stuart Hogg was withdrawn after a head knock and his replacement Mark Bennett lasted only four minutes before injuring a leg trying to run out of his 22.

It left Scotland’s starting scrum-half Ali Price on the wing and fly-half Finn Russell – and later substitute Duncan Weir – at the back to cover for Hogg.

They had already been obliged to start without the injured scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, and Brown’s absence meant No.8 Ryan Wilson had to throw into one line-out in a good position that came to nothing.

And while there had been little in the early exchanges anyway to suggest England’s big pack were going to be derailed by Scotland’s more mobile back row, the disarray among the visitors’ double-digit jersey numbers certainly contributed to three blistering tries by England for a 30-7 lead at the interval.

Jonathan Joseph looks for the offload after being tackled by Ryan Wilson

England had started slowly in their previous wins over France, Wales and Italy in this Six Nations but their attacking moves off line-outs led by Courtney Lawes were super-smooth in execution and easily splintered the shellshocked Scots.

Jonathan Joseph had his 14th and 15th Test tries, in his 32nd Test for England, after two and 24 minutes, with his Bath club-mate George Ford pulling the midfield strings.

And Joseph turned creator in the 35th minute as another Bath man, Anthony Watson (on for the stricken Daly) cantered over.

Owen Farrell was just as prominent in the midfield skewering of the Scots, having recovered sufficiently from a midweek training injury, although the Saracens centre played with his left leg heavily strapped.

Farrell converted all three tries as well as two penalties, although he proved himself marginally fallible with an attempt from the halfway line that flew millimetres wide just before the half-time whistle.

Scotland and England's forwards compete for a line-out

Scotland’s plight was so bad they were forced to kick a penalty in the England 22 into touch with 27 minutes gone but it produced their first points. A clever line-out ploy with backs stepping in and out of the line-out, followed by several sharp pick-and-goes, were finished by Gordon Reid for the loosehead prop’s first Test try.

Joseph’s hat-trick score came two minutes into the second half, with a strolling finish after some battering by No.8 Nathan Hughes.

Farrell’s conversion and subsequent penalty nudged England’s lead up to 33 points before centre Huw Jones nicked a try back for Scotland, from short range taking Henry Pyrgos’s pass off a ruck.

Sadly there had only been brief glimpses of the galloping Jonny Gray and Tim Visser as the staggeringly athletic Lawes and Maro Itoje dominated the physical exchanges – whether in open play or in the occasional scuffles as Scottish forwards lost their composure.

Jonathan Joseph opened the scoring with an early try

Itoje’s line-out take paved the way for a popular try by Billy Vunipola within five minutes of the Saracens No.8 coming on for his first Test since November after a knee injury.

An accidental clash of heads removed Wilson for Scotland, and Jamie George of England, which brought the substituted captain Hartley back onto the field.

But the notion of “finishers” popularised by Jones the coach was barely relevant as the Twickenham crowd had long settled into a contented hum of assured victory before the final quarter played out.

England already had their record score in the Calcutta Cup, and were on the way to their second-highest in any Championship match, so a second try for Jones the centre converted by Russell was hardly going to cause much consternation.

It was a heated affair at Twickenham but England emerged on top

And the white-jerseyed barrage quickly resumed with yet another try from a line-out nabbed by the jinking Danny Care - and the substitute scrum-half had another in the fourth minute of added time, with Farrell popping over his sixth and seventh conversions for 26 points on his own.

Another record that had fallen was England winning 11 Championship matches in a row but you can bet all the players are thinking about now is finishing the job in style against the Irish.


England: tries: Joseph 3, Watson, B Vunipola, Care 2; conversions: Farrell 7; penalties: Farrell 4.

Scotland: tries: Reid, Jones 2; conversions: Russell 3.

England: M Brown; J Nowell , J Joseph (rep B Te’o 58th min), O Farrell, E Daly (A Watson 2-10, 16); G Ford, B Youngs (D Care 61); J Marler (M Vunipola 58), D Hartley (capt; J George 52-62, 70), D Cole (K Sinckler 61), J Launchbury, C Lawes (T Wood 67), M Itoje, J Haskell, N Hughes (B Vunipola 52).

Scotland: S Hogg (M Bennett 18, H Pyrgos 22); T Seymour (D Weir 45), H Jones, A Dunbar, T Visser; F Russell, A Price; G Reid (A Dell 44), F Brown (sin bin 2-13; R Ford 44), Z Ferguson (S Berghan 61), R Gray, J Gray (T Swinson 75), J Barclay (capt), H Watson, R Wilson (C du Preez 62).

Referee: M Raynal (France).

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