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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Record Victory, but England Fails to Impress

LONDON -- England produced a statistically impressive, yet curiously disjointed, start at the Five Nations' championship.


The defending champions overwhelmed Scotland by a record-winning margin of 41-13 at Twickenham, scoring three tries in the space of five minutes after an hour of uninspiring and often indifferent rugby.


In the other second round match Ireland, unbeaten in its previous six visits to Cardiff, triumphed again, albeit by only one point, with a 26-25 victory over Wales.


England's first half performance was lackluster, and it was lucky to take a 16-10 lead into the interval after referee Paddy O'Brien awarded a penalty try for deliberate offside.


Scotland, beaten 34-19 by Wales in the first round, narrowed the margin to three points before its defense collapsed in the face of some sustained pressure by the massive England forwards.


Scrum-half Andy Gomarsall capitalized on a burst by lock Martin Johnson. Will Carling, who had an outstanding game throughout, scored his first try against the Scots, and Phil de Glanville, his successor as captain, scored the third.


"We put a lot of work in and at the end scored some tries. And, as we are always hearing, we don't score tries. That was very satisfying," Carling said.


De Glanville, who needed a good performance Saturday to confirm his place in the side ahead of Jeremy Guscott, said, "We did what we needed to do in the first half. And then gradually the opportunities and the space came in the second half, and we made use of it."


England, though, still looked one-paced and lacked penetration for most of the match. The game generally was riddled with basic errors.


Scotland captain Rob Wainwright, whose chances of captaining the British Lions in South Africa this year seem to be slipping by the match, stated the obvious when he said, "Our defense just wasn't up to the mark, really."


The Irish, 80-to-one no-hopers to win the championship after a loss to France two weeks ago, bounced back with a passionate performance to stun a Wales side, that went into the match as the firm favorite after having demolished Scotland in Edinburgh.


The Irish had to survive a ferocious late onslaught before hanging on to their remarkable record in the Welsh capital.


Ireland won despite conceding one of the earliest tries in international rugby history with Wales wing Ieuan Evans crossing after just 34 seconds for the first of his two tries.


But the Irish got the better of Wales up front and took their chances brilliantly -- center Jonathan Bell, No. 8 Eric Miller and debutante wing Dennis Hickie all crossing to score during a rampant 22-minute patch.


Ireland manager Pat Whelan attributed the remarkable reversal in Irish fortunes to new coach Brian Ashton, who took over a month ago.


Ashton, who succeeded New Zealander Murray Kidd, admitted that a fightback that took Wales to the brink of victory after it had trailed by 11 points with 15 minutes left, had been worrying.


"All credit to the Welsh because they came back into the game in a big way," he said. "But we showed some wonderful defense."


Ashton will now be looking to plot the downfall of England at Lansdowne Road in a fortnight with both still in the hunt for the coveted Triple Crown.


(Reuters, AFP)