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HIGHLIGHTS – Hodgson try hands England victory at Murrayfield

04 February 2012

  • England defeat Scotland at Murrayfield thanks to Charlie Hodgson try
  • Solid defence and boot of Owen Farrell see England withstand late pressure
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Scotland 6 England 13

An opportunist seventh international try from fly half Charlie Hodgson was enough to give England a narrow 13-6 victory over Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations opener at Murrayfield.

A hard-fought victory gave Stuart Lancaster the perfect start to his tenure as Interim Head Coach, and his side defended with steely determination and outstanding commitment for most of the second half after Hodgson's  score.

Two Dan Parks penalties had earned Scotland a 6-3 half-time lead and put the hosts on course for just a second opening weekend win in 13 attempts in the tournament, before his mistake cost his side the game 29 seconds into the second half.

Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Owen Farrell rush to congratulate Charlie Hodgson after his crucial try against Scotland

Photo: Getty Images

Saracens No.10 Hodgson – back in an England starting side for the first time since 2008 – charged down Parks’ poorly attempted clearance kick and was first to the loose ball to dab down for his first international try in six years.

Sarries colleague Owen Farrell converted and finished with eight points on an assured England debut.

The television match official ruled against Edinburgh replacement Greig Laidlaw – on for Parks – after 63 minutes, and for all Scotland's endeavour they could not breach the white wall of defenders.

Scotland were smarting from their last Test – the last-gasp loss to England which saw them eliminated from the Rugby World Cup at the group stage for the first time – and determined to finally realise their undoubted potential.

Lock Jim Hamilton set the tone for the hosts in the opening minute, rampaging into the England 22 only for a misplaced pass to allow Tom Palmer to hack the danger clear.

Farrell, 20, missed a penalty from 47 metres after 13 minutes, but soon had another opportunity.

England centre Owen Farrell kicks a penalty against Scotland at Murrayfield, three of eight points on debut

Photo: Getty Images

Hodgson's kick cross-field was dropped by Rory Lamont, wing David Strettle collected, scampered forward and fed his Saracens team mate Mouritz Botha, who was tackled and not released. This time Farrell capitalised and put England 3-0 ahead after 23 minutes.

Parks levelled three minutes later after Scotland punched forward from the restart and the visitors were penalised for going off their feet.

A Max Evans burst pushed Scotland forward before Chris Ashton was caught by Chris Cusiter, David Denton and Alasdair Strokosch, the wing failing to release, presenting Parks with another chance. The fly half made it 6-3 after 33 minutes before his error in the opening moments of the second half allowed England to regain the lead.

Parks delayed over a straightforward clearance at his own line, Hodgson charged down and won the race for the ball, becoming the first England players to score at the ground since Danny Grewcock in 2004. Farrell converted to make it 10-6.

Opportunities for superb No.8 Denton and Strettle fizzled out before giant Scotland lock Richie Gray powered through a gap up to the England 22, but Strokosch knocked on when following up in support.

Robinson turned to his replacements' bench with 21 minutes remaining – Alastair Kellock, John Barclay, Mike Blair and Laidlaw introduced for Hamilton, Strokosch, Cusiter and Parks.

England captain Chris Robshaw lifts the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield

Photo: Getty Images

The reinforcements had a near-immediate impact when Laidlaw appealed for a try after chasing his own chip, only to fail to get the required downward pressure ahead of scrum half Ben Youngs

Lancaster also turned to his bench, with lock Geoff Parling, centre Jordan Turner-Hall, scrum half Lee Dickson and No.8 Ben Morgan coming on for their first Test caps and bringing the total to seven alongside starters Brad Barritt, Phil Dowson and Farrell.

Ross Rennie darted through a gap and attempted to find Blair, only for full back Ben Foden to snuff out the pass. Farrell missed a penalty attempt from halfway after 71 minutes as England spurned the chance to take a crucial seven-point lead.

But another England replacement, Mike Brown, earned a penalty after Scotland failed to release and Farrell this time booted England further ahead with five minutes remaining.

Scotland continued to look for opportunities but were repelled on each occasion by fiercely committed England defence, as the visitors held on for their first Calcutta Cup win in Edinburgh since 2004.

Scotland v England teams

Scotland: R Lamont; Jones, De Luca, S Lamont, Evans; Parks, Cusiter, Jacobsen, Ford, Murray, Gray, Hamilton, Strokosch, Rennie, Denton.

Replacements: Laidlaw for Parks (57), Blair for Cusiter (59), Cross for Jacobsen (75), S. Lawson for Ford (75), Kellock for Hamilton (59), Barclay for Strokosch (59).

Not Used: Morrison.

England: Foden; Ashton, Barritt, Farrell, Strettle; Hodgson, Youngs; Corbisiero, Hartley, Cole, Botha, Palmer, Croft, Robshaw, Dowson.

Replacements: Brown for Barritt (72), Turner-Hall for Hodgson (63), Dickson for Youngs (63), Stevens for Corbisiero (63), Parling for Palmer (59), Morgan for Dowson (68).

Not Used: Webber.

Att: 67,144

Ref: George Clancy (IRFU).