Having watched one of the best games of the tournament in Cardiff, Twickenham was calling. My friend Monica and I had stayed in Bristol, prices in Cardiff are just crazy on match weekend, so we had an easy journey up to London. we parked a good walk away, but there was no need to pay a huge fee for parking, the joys of knowing the area a bit. We strolled to the ground in bright sunshine, so were a tad warm by the time we arrived. We made a quick diversion to the O2 Blue Room to say hello to a few people before heading into the ground.
It was shirt sleeve weather which was a delight, it was also a delight to be joined by Colin and Michelle, friends from Orrell RUFC! What wasn’t a delight was the very loud and sweary man behind us, he felt the need to fuff and worse at the top of his voice all the way through the game as well as make pronouncements on that was happening, as if those around him were rugby morons, disappointing at a rugby match I have to say!
This was one game I was very nervous about, yes England had won their first three matches but it has to be said they did just enough to do so, they weren’t great performances. Whereas Scotland were in a fine vein of form, I was actually looking forward to watching their back line in full flow.
A rash, late tackle by Fraser Brown on Elliot Daly saw a yellow card brandished, Brown raised Daly’s legs above the horizontal and drove him into the ground, he was saved by the fact that it wasn’t Daly’s head that hit the ground first. He’s since been cited, but the officials decision has in effect been upheld as he hasn’t faced further punishment.
To be able to compete in international rugby teams really need 15 men on the field at all times. England made the most of their man advantage, with Jonathan Joseph, in need of a performance, running in a great try, Owen Farrell whose kicking boots were a bit off in Cardiff duly converted. Farrell had apparently been doubtful to start the match, but he was certainly there, and was in fine form.
That try was to set the tone for England, as they scored a further 6 to give them a record score. Scotland lost the exciting Stuart Hogg on 17 minutes with a head injury, his replacement Mark Bennett wasn’t far behind him on the injury list. But, injuries aside this was an England team on the verge of matching the All Blacks winning run of 18 matches and they meant to do in in some style.
At last in this tournament they produced a performance, Jonathan Joseph added a further 2 tries to his personal tally to reach his hat-trick 3 minutes into the second half, Joseph had set up his Bath team mate Anthony Watson in the first half, meaning a bonus point was secured just after that second half started.
England didn’t have it all their own way however, Gordon Reid had scored a try in the first half and Scotland’s young centre, Huw Jones scored a further 2 in the second half. There was defending to do and Joe Launchbury in top form throughout the tournament made 22 of the tackles needed to keep Scotland quiet on his own. Scotland lost Tommy Seymour as their back line was further damaged.
I’m only up to 4 tries for the home team, England’s bench, of finishers as Eddie Jones likes to call them added a further 3, with Mako Vunipola scoring after a big rolling maul. Danny Care showed his skills in scoring 2 tries to take the total to 61 points, Farrell had hit the target with all but one range penalty. The final score was England 61 Scotland 21.
The result in Cardiff meant that England also won the 6 Nations Championship to add to the Calcutta Cup won on the day! Dublin and history now wait for this England team, where they can win back to back Grand Slams as well as surpassing the All Blacks.
The Friday night thriller was the best game of the weekend for me, but as an England fan this was the best result, what a weekend of rugby Monica and I had!