England beat Scotland to win the Calcutta Cup and make the perfect start to the 2016 RBS Six Nations, overpowering their rivals at Murrayfield on Saturday evening. Earlier, France beat Italy in a thriller, relying on a late penalty from fly-half Jules Plisson to earn the win at a packed Stade de France.
Here are the final scores from the tournament's initial fixtures:
|2016 RBS Six Nations Results: Saturday's Round 1 Scores|
Here's what those results mean for the table:
|2016 RBS Six Nations Standings|
England bossed proceedings early on, going ahead through a George Kruis try. Coach Eddie Jones, anxious to reaffirm the strength of the pack, will have been pleased with how his team flexed their muscles in the loose mauls.
Paul Williams of Rugby World was impressed by the way England's power and drive literally carried the game to the Scots:
Paul Williams @thepaulwilliams
Some big carries from England. Cracking leg drive2/6/2016, 5:05:56 PM
He also highlighted one performance he felt really stood out:
Paul Williams @thepaulwilliams
Owen Farell doing an admirable job trucking-up to set up 2nd phases - particularly on 22m exits. Impressive2/6/2016, 5:21:35 PM
Jones' players appeared firmly in control, yet some mistakes let the Scots back in it. Greig Laidlaw converted a pair of penalties as Scotland finished the first half strongly.
Jack Nowell added to England's tally after the break. His try seemed like a good omen for the English, as OptaJonny explained:
4 - England have won all four previous games in which Jack Nowell has scored a try. Charm.2/6/2016, 6:02:31 PM
So it proved, as Farrell booted a penalty to extend the lead for Jones' experienced and rugged group, before another Laidlaw penalty made things almost too close for comfort with just over 10 minutes left.
But England held on for a comprehensive win to earn the Calcutta Cup, ahead of facing Italy.
In Paris, the Italians kept France frustrated for much of the match, thanks to a stingy and robust defensive effort, one detailed by BBC Rugby Union:
BBC Rugby Union @bbcrugbyunion
Italy can win this game if they keep it tight and tactical. Thoughts? https://t.co/PqdEvP1Cl9 #SixNations https://t.co/v20vtQiKmf2/6/2016, 3:56:55 PM
Italy actually held an eight-point lead with half an hour left in the game, but some late errors proved their undoing. None was more costly than skipper Sergio Parisse's infraction that set up the winning penalty.
He'd scored a try in the first half to keep things close, after Virimi Vakatawa and Damien Chouly had both ploughed over for the French. Carlo Canna added another try for Italy, before Hugo Bonneval got France back in it during the second half.
Parisse might have gone from hero to villain even after Plisson's decisive kick, and the 32-year-old tried for a drop-goal to give Italy the win.
It was a bold decision that had the BBC's Bryn Palmer somewhat confused:
Bryn Palmer @BBCBrynPalmer
Not sure why @sergioparisse opted try match-winning DG himself (though he did land one v Scotland at Murrayfield in 09) rather than Haimona?2/6/2016, 4:16:17 PM
As for France, they hardly produced the thrilling, attacking rugby many want to see, but coach Guy Noves can take heart from his team's scrappy spirit and resolve. His players used width well, but the pack needs some work after the way Italy played the bully at times in the French capital.
A winning start will be welcome for the French, while England made an impressive response following their dismal World Cup campaign. Both nations will surely keep an eye on the first outing of a powerful-looking Ireland squad, with the reigning champions in action on Sunday.