Scotland vs. England: Score and Lessons Learned from Six Nations Clash

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2014

Scotland vs. England: Score and Lessons Learned from Six Nations Clash

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    Stuart Lancaster's England got their first points of this year's Six Nations tournament on Saturday, easing to a 20-0 triumph at Murrayfield.

    The visiting team were resolute on a terrible Edinburgh turf, tries from Luther Burrell and Mike Brown helping the English to an ideal bounce back from last weekend's loss in Paris.

    With Scotland still seeking their first victory of the competition, the clash raised a selection of key talking points and factors to consider moving forward.

1. Lancaster Faith in Squad Solidity Pays Off

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    Stuart Lancaster chose to field an unchanged starting XV for the trip to Edinburgh, complete with a broken nose-sporting Jonny May from last weekend's loss to France.

    It's a strategy that many wouldn't have favoured given the unsavoury result in Paris but one that nonetheless proved the head coach was right in trusting the same line-up.

    Jack Nowell and May were far more assured with more time afforded to them in the national team fold, while Luther Burrell soared in a storming display.

    Although it might have been a risk to persevere with those who had already disappointed their fans, rejecting any notion of a knee-jerk reaction was the correct route.

2. Quagmired 'Maggotfield' Pitch Not Enough to Save Scotland

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    The Scottish Rugby Union has come under fire this week, with the Daily Mail's Chris Foy reporting on the controversy that is the dire state of the Murrayfield pitch.

    An infestation of maggots has reduced the turf to nothing, a complication to Saturday's meeting that some thought could run in the hosts' favour.

    The weather can often be a variable worth taking into account when assessing the prospects of the Calcutta Cup participants, but this time was not with success for Scott Johnson's side.

    England were able to hold their own at the breakdown, an area that Scotland boast as one of their finest qualities, and the astute line-out performance was an almighty feat for Stuart Lancaster's men.

3. Luther Burrell Stands as Leading Light in Centre Haze

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    Luther Burrell's debut against France last weekend stood as one of the brighter positives in an otherwise disappointing result, and the Northampton Saints star maintained his rising trajectory at Murrayfield.

    Burrell maintained a 100 percent scoring record under Stuart Lancaster, busting his way through a mass of bodies to extend England's initial lead in the 14th minute.

    It was an impressive outing in more general terms, too, with the budding centre carrying for 31 metres, making three clean breaks and forcing two turnovers in his defensive duties.

4. Chris Fusaro Validates Kelly Brown Drop

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    Kelly Brown's omission from the Scotland squad this weekend evoked a reaction of confusion for some, the captain dropping out to see Chris Fusaro take his spot on the open-side.

    Making his international debut, Fusaro had his share of impressive moments against England, showing that there may have been some logic to Scott Johnson's ambiguous squad selection.

    The Glasgow Warriors talisman had eight tackles to his name by the time Jerome Garces had blown up for half-time, with Brown's spot on the sidelines perhaps secured as a result.

5. Danny Care Deserving of His Place Ahead of Ben Youngs

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    Just as Brown was an odd drop for Scotland, Danny Care's selection ahead of Leicester's Ben Youngs at the start of the tournament was met with an equal measure of head scratching, the scrum-half pair continuing their jostle for international prominence.

    And for the second week in a row, Care proved that Stuart Lancaster's faith in his No. 9 is well placed, the half-back dropping over from short range to open the scoring early on at Murrayfield.

    With Lee Dickson instead riding the bench as backup, Care's promotion of quick ball in the win over Scotland was put to good use, his own darting runs regularly testing the Scottish defence.

6. Courtney Lawes' Crunch Beating of Jim Hamilton

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    A battle of the giants to be marvelled at, the second-row head-to-head between Courtney Lawes and Jim Hamilton was being sized up as an epic clash.

    Fortunately for Stuart Lancaster, Lawes didn't shrink on the big occasion, holding his own at the set-piece and injecting his usual touch of physicality to the ball-carrying side of things.

    Hamilton was forced off with just 10 minutes to go, leaving Lawes standing on a field of victory both in a team sense and as an individual.