England hit the ground running as a performance full of energy, aggression and no little ambition brought tries for Chris Ashton, Billy Twelvetrees, Geoff Parling and Danny Care in a 38-18 Six Nations victory over Scotland at Twickenham yesterday.
Any doubts that its oldest rival would drag England back to earth after their stunning victory over New Zealand two months ago were dispelled with a fired-up start that earned them a 19-11 halftime lead via four penalties from the excellent Owen Farrell and Ashton’s try.
Scotland, without a win at Twickenham for 30 years, had scored the first try through debutant winger Sean Maitland and had moments of enterprise, but was blown away in the second half as Twelvetrees, who enjoyed a fine debut at inside center, and Parling finished off some impressive moves.
Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg scored a length-of-the-field try 10 minutes from time after both teams ended the game flinging the ball around like Sevens players and were regularly turned over. England were on top, though, and finished on a high with a stoppage-time score by replacement scrumhalf Danny Care.
Ireland inflicted an eighth successive defeat on last season’s Six Nations champions and grand slam winners Wales, whose fall from grace continued with a 30-22 loss in the tournament’s opening game yesterday
Wales was stunned by Ireland’s 20-point salvo in the opening 28 minutes that brought tries for wing Simon Zebo and prop Cian Healy, their scores backed up by Jonny Sexton’s accurate boot.
Returning former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll went over from a meter out his 46th international try in 121 matches early in the second half. Although Wales countered with scores from Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny and Craig Mitchell, its stirring fightback fell short.
No side has won back-to-back grand slams since France in the old Five Nations in 1997 and 1998.