England 38-18 Scotland, Six Nations, Twickenham
Lancaster savours England win
February 2, 2013
Stuart Lancaster praises England character
England head coach Stuart Lancaster admitted he had been given a selection headache after Billy Twelvetrees made an impressive debut in the 38-18 Calcutta Cup triumph at Twickenham.
Gloucester centre Twelvetrees powered over for a second-half touchdown as England ran in four tries and fly-half Owen Farrell kicked 18 points in the 38-18 Six Nations triumph against Scotland. Now Lancaster must decide whether to stick with 24-year-old Twelvetrees for the crucial clash against Ireland in Dublin next Sunday, when star centre Manu Tuilagi is expected to have recovered from injury.
Lancaster said: "It is a big step up for any player to make his debut, particularly at Twickenham. We are delighted with the way he (Twelvetrees) took it to get the try but his confidence and composure has been good all week. It shows he is ready to make the step.
"This time last year we had seven players making their debuts and with Billy making his we have a young side. We are bringing on 20-odd-year-olds and it is great for us as a squad. There are a few selection debates to be honest. Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes did well when they came on. (James) Haskell was outstanding.
"Across the board and with Manu (Tuilagi) coming back into consideration there will be some selection decisions to make. We need to knuckle down to what will be a massive game against Ireland."
England's other tries came via Chris Ashton, Geoff Parling and Danny Care while Scotland wing Sean Maitland scored on his debut and Stuart Hogg scored a late consolation touchdown for the Scots with Craig Laidlaw kicking two penalties and a conversion.
Man of the match, however, was Farrell, who kicked seven goals from eight attempts and set up Parling's try with an exquisite long pass. England attack coach Mike Catt saluted the fly-half's all-round performance.
"The mental toughness that he possesses was very noticeable," said Catt. "He was cool and calm under pressure and I thought he attacked the line very well. We produced quick ball continually and we had the Scots on the rack a few times.
"It gave the likes of Billy (Twelvetrees) and Brad (Barritt) the chance to get on the front foot. All credit to the forwards for giving us that type of ball. We look at putting the ball to where the space is and Owen did that."
Lancaster, however, was delighted with the progress of an England side who beat the All Blacks by a record margin at Twickenham in December. Lancaster said: "People underestimate how much it takes to pull together a cohesive team. Over the last 12 months we've had some ups and downs but we have learned as we have gone.
Billy Twelvetrees celebrates his try for England © Getty Images
"The last two weeks have been invaluable in going over the lessons we learned in the autumn. We felt prepared going into the game and while we are not satisfied with everything I thought our cohesion was excellent and it has given us a foundation to go into Dublin.
"Clearly we will have to (step up for Dublin). Ireland are an outstanding side. They have quality players across the board so it is a big step up. We need to make sure we are ready mentally physically and mentally and technically."
Disappointed Scotland interim coach Scott Johnson admitted his side were outplayed.
He said: "We were disappointing in the areas we need to work on. We can dream away about how we'd like to play the game of rugby but the reality is in the modern game, if you don't get the contact area right, you can dream all you like, it's fantasy, fairytales won't come true. "We lost the battle of field position because of our inability to stop them. So the contact area, with and without the ball, was poor. Simple."
Scotland's plans were disrupted by a cheekbone injury to flanker Alasdair Strokosch, who was replaced early in the first half by David Denton. Johnson, however, refused to use the setback as an excuse.
"It's no coincidence that the best team in the world (New Zealand) are the best in the contact area, both with and without the ball," said Johnson. "Everyone looks at their great rugby players, but they can't be great rugby players unless they are getting quality ball.
"There's no panacea except good old-fashioned hard grunt. That's it. I don't want our mirror to lie; these are the realities. There are improvements in our game needed right across the board at all levels. We are just going to continue getting on the same horse, same mantra and get it right.
"That's all you can do. Can't dress it up. Dad always used to say: 'if it looks like a pig, it's a pig'." Johnson, however, insisted his side did not lack effort and physicality.
"We weren't bullied at all," he said. "The fact is we didn't do our part right. We were slow in our line-speed coming forward, so you're always going back. We talk about it constantly, but we didn't do it. "Did we try hard? Too right we did. We showed great endeavour in some areas of the game. I don't question for one minute the resolve of the boys, they are a fantastic bunch of kids. They are good players, we've just got to work on areas of our game.
"That's what we've got to do and we are deluded to think otherwise."
Scotland captain Kelly Brown said: "I feel they (England) were able to play the game in our third and they won the gain-line, and if you are on the back foot and playing a lot of rugby in your half, it suddenly becomes very hard."
One pleasing note for Scotland was the form of full-back Stuart Hogg, who set up Scotland's first try and scored the second. Johnson said: "We knew we could punish sides but I don't want to plaster over the cracks.
"Stuart (Hogg), it was the best game I've seen him have in Scotland colours. I thought he did wonderfully, wonderfully well. It shows what a great talent he is and we like to get him in positions. You can ask me 1,000 questions, the reality is yes, we can beat sides, we can look good. We'd like to look good more often.
"We want to play an attractive game of rugby and we've got potent players to do it but we are limiting our chances unless we get it right. We've just got to keep repeating that work. It's not a lack of will. This team has got a lot of will."
Meanwhile, England No.8 Ben Morgan has a sprained ankle, although Lancaster described it as "not too serious".
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