England seal Calcutta Cup victory
February 21, 2004
Lawrence Dallaglio lifts the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield
© Getty Images
So, two out of two for England, none for the Scots. The Calcutta Cup stays another year on the Twickenham sideboard. With two home dates to come next, the Paris showdown for the title looks increasingly likely, while the Scots go to Rome fearing a whitewash and wooden spoon.
Nothing terribly unexpected there. And this match followed the recent pattern of most Calcutta clashes at Twickenham. England won, and never really looked like doing anything else, but without turning on the style.
Clive Woodward will not be too concerned. Not even world champions can turn it on every time, and where his teams differ from their England predecessors is that they win, sometimes by wide margins - this was their highest score at Murrayfield - when some way short of their best.
That they never reproduced the sparkle of Rome six days earlier owed a lot to the efforts of Scotland. Coach Matt Williams, calling for patience for his young team, has promised the Scottish public passion - and they duly delivered. Their problem is that passion alone is not sufficient to pierce England's extraordinary defence. That takes a mix of pace, precision and a touch of the unexpected, plus perhaps a little luck. But they can at least take some encouragement on their trip to Rome. England, by contrast, consistently took points where they attacked. If they were lucky with the refereeing, they also earned their scores by putting the Scots under intense pressure - irrespective of which side had possession - and reacting with rapier speed where the errors induced by the pressure gave them opportunities.
They are a good enough team not to need help from the referee, while Ireland's David McHugh is widely acknowledged to be one of the leading officials in the world.
Scotland, though, could feel aggrieved about Mr McHugh's rulings on the two tries that accounted for England's 20-6 half-team lead as he missed an apparent knock-on in the build-up to the first, then indicated that a fumble by lock Danny Grewcock had gone backwards - most Scots felt the opposite - just before the second. The scores were opportunistic, rather than the majestic build-ups seen in Rome last Sunday, but still counted five points each plus Paul Grayson's conversion. The first score was by Ben Cohen, his 26th in internationals, after 11 minutes, chasing a chip ahead by Jason Robinson then swooping when Scotland full-back Ben Hinshelwood overran the ball. Then 20 minutes later Iain Balshaw kicked through after Grewcock's fumble and beat desperately scrambling scrum-half Chris Cusiter to the touch-down.
Scotland's first-half display that was a huge improvement on their efforts seven days ago in Cardiff. They started admirably, with Chris Paterson reversing the direction of his kick-off, Simon Danielli advancing fast to collar Cohen and Paterson landing the touchline penalty when England went over the top. They spent much of the first half going forward. Two penalties by Paterson were a poor reward for their first-half efforts, but reflected the quality of English tackling and covering, while the composed Grayson landed both conversions and two penalties for England.
The restart brought a simple pattern of Scottish fire against English ice. Opportunism produced points for England again after 47 minutes when Josh Lewsey charged down replacement Andrew Henderson's clearance and plunged to score. The Scots finally got their reward ten minutes later with the ever-dangerous Simon Danielli kicking ahead and retrieving possession when Balshaw overran the ball. Paterson converted and the Scots were back within two scores.
But Grayson renewed their margin of comfort with a penalty after Scottish number eight Simon Taylor killed the ball on his own line. Taylor was sin-binned and England took advantage of their numerical edge to claim a final try by Grewcock, converted by Grayson.