Maitland scores on debut but England win

STEVE DOUGLAS
Last updated 07:12 03/02/2013
Sean Maitland
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TRY TIME: Sean Maitland dives over for his first try in Scottish colours against England in the Six Nations.

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Former Crusader Sean Maitland scored a try on debut but it wasn't enough to carry Scotland to victory as they succumbed 38-18 to England at Twickenham in their Six Nations opener.

The victory was never in doubt once winger Chris Ashton went over for England's opening score on the half-hour mark, helping them to a 19-11 halftime lead. Debutant Billy Twelvetrees, Geoff Parling and Danny Care grabbed further tries after the break, with Owen Farrell excelling and kicking 16 points.

"I'm really pleased with the scoreline - we definitely would have taken that at the start of the day," England coach Stuart Lancaster said. "We've been building steadily, getting more consistent."

Scotland was second best in most departments and tries on the counterattack by Maitland and Stuart Hogg book-ended the match, giving the scoreline some respectability for them.

This assured, disciplined effort in the oldest fixture in international rugby was another demonstration of the strides England has made under Stuart Lancaster since its sorry 2011 World Cup campaign, which was an embarrassment on and off the pitch.

A memorable and historic win over New Zealand in its final autumn test had raised the expectations levels on the English, with many considering them the best bets with France for the title. Upcoming matches in Ireland next Sunday and at home to France on matchday three will be a truer test of their credentials but they will certainly be challenging on this evidence.

"Ireland are an outstanding side," Lancaster said of Declan Kidney's team, which beat Wales 30-22 earlier Saturday. "It'll be a big step up."

Scotland's last win at Twickenham was 30 years ago and its best hope of ending that sorry run would have been if the heavens opened and the match turned into an all-out forwards battle.

No such luck.

England controlled possession and largely did the basics well, going through the phases and punishing any Scottish indiscipline through Farrell's unforgiving kicking that is already being compared to that of Jonny Wilkinson's. He missed just one of his seven kicks at goal.

"The mental toughness he possesses was in evidence," England attack coach Mike Catt said. "Cool and calm under pressure."

The home side did have to come from behind, though, after Maitland - playing by virtue of his Scottish grandparents - dived over in the corner in the ninth minute after Hogg's piercing break from inside his own half.

That put the Scots 5-3 up - it was the only time they were ahead.

"We gave them too many easy yards and we're really disappointed," interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson said. "We let ourselves down."

Farrell booted two penalties before Ashton buried himself between Greig Laidlaw and Hogg to ground one-handed, moments after Joe Launchbury had been held up on the line. That helped England to a 19-11 halftime lead and the signs were already apparent that Scotland would be in for a long second half.

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Just three minutes after the break, Twelvetrees ran onto a crash-ball from halfback Ben Youngs to mark an impressive debut with a try.

With the English pressure relentless, Launchbury had a try disallowed for an infringement in the build-up by hooker Tom Youngs but his second-row partner, Parling, followed up with a legitimate score of his own.

Farrell showed he has a devastating pass to go with his clinical kicking, sending over a long miss-pass that Parling ran onto and dived over in the left corner.

Hogg broke clear on turnover ball and hacked ahead to ground ahead of replacement Toby Flood to give Scotland some respite as much as anything else, but England deservedly had the final say when Care plundered through a morass of bodies under the posts.

"We are moving forward," England captain Chris Robshaw said. "Everyone is starting to understand each other a bit better."

England 38 (Chris Ashton, Billy Twelvetrees, Geoff Parling, Danny Care tries;Owen Farrell 4 pen, 3 con) Scotland 18 (Sean Maitland, Stuart Hogg tries;Greig Laidlaw 2 pen, con)

- AP

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