Rugby Union


Farrell hails England fight in Calcutta Cup win

EDINBURGH: Debutant England centre Andy Farrell was delighted by the commitment a revamped side showed as they began the defence of their Six Nations title with a 13-6 win away to Scotland here on Saturday.

England's first victory at Murrayfield since 2004 also gave new interim coach Stuart Lancaster an ideal start in his first match in charge since succeeding Martin Johnson, who resigned after the side's World Cup flop in New Zealand.

Australia-born fly-half Dan Parks kicked Scotland into a 6-3 half-time lead in this Calcutta Cup clash after landing two penalties to one from 20-year-old centre Farrell, who plays for English Premiership champions Saracens.

But Parks's day nosedived fewer than 30 seconds into the second half when his clearing kick was charged down by recalled England fly-half Charlie Hodgson for the only try of the match.

"That's just the start for us," said Farrell, who converted club-mate Hodgson's try and kicked eight points in total.

"We came out here and worked unbelievably hard for each other, that's what we've worked on the last couple of weeks -- getting together and bonding as a team," added Farrell, son of England backs coach Andy, the former dual code international.


Lancaster ended up giving seven England players their Test debut in front of a capacity Murrayfield crowd, with Farrell, fellow Saracens centre Brad Barritt, and Northampton No.8 Phil Dowson all starting, while Jordan Turner-Hall, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan and Rob Dickson came off the bench.

"We really want to fight for each other and we showed that out there today. We can still get better and better as the weeks go on," said Farrell after a win in rugby union's oldest international fixture set England up for a match away to Italy, beaten 30-12 by France in Paris earlier Saturday, next weekend.

Former Scotland youth international Lancaster, was delighted by his fledgling team's resilience.

"It is what teams are built on, spirit, and they showed a tremendous amount of spirit and courage to play for each other and play for England," he said.

"It's all about getting the first win and we need to back it up now."

For Scotland it was an all too depressingly familiar story as they failed to score a try for the fourth successive Test.

They had the man-of-the-match in No.8 David Denton but a series of handling errors and knock-ons cost them dear.

Scotland did come close to a try in the 63rd minute when Greig Laidlaw, on for Parks, chipped over the defence and was involved in a race for the ball with Ben Youngs, only for Welsh television match official Nigel Whitehouse to rule the England scrum-half had got to the ball first.

But they also butchered a two-on-one chance when flanker Ross Rennie delayed his pass to replacement scrum-half Mike Blair and was tackled by England full-back Ben Foden.

"It seems a little bit like deja vu," said Robinson, a former England flanker and coach.

"We've been here before and obviously we're all bitterly disappointed about what's happened," he added, ahead of a match away to Wales, who complete the tournament's opening weekend against Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.

This result left Robinson still searching for his first win over England in four attempts as Scotland boss following three defeats and a draw.

"Winning and losing Test matches is all about inches and those small margins," he said. "We've got to be able to take those chances."