England hammer Scotland to retain 6 Nations title
England demolished Scotland with a bonus-point 61-21 victory to claim a second consecutive Six Nations championships and set up a shot at back-to-back Grand Slams next week in Dublin.
Eddie Jones’s men ran in seven tries at Twickenham to swat the Scots aside, Jonathan Joseph notching a hat-trick.
It left them on 18 points, eight ahead of the Irish and French, and nine in front of Scotland with one round of matches to go.
That means they can’t be caught, and will stride into the Aviva Stadium looking to set a new record of 19 consecutive Test wins and, in the process, bag the Slam for the second year on the bounce.
The title was effectively secured by half-time after two blistering tries from Joseph, and a third he set up for Anthony Watson, established an unassailable 30-7 lead against opponents who imploded from the moment the Triple Crown decider began.
Joseph was irrepressible, responding to Eddie Jones’ decision to drop him for the victory over Italy a fortnight ago by causing mayhem in traumatised Scottish ranks with an electric display of running.
The Bath outside centre had faded as an attacking force over the last year, his tries coming from intercepts and opportunism, but this was a glorious return to form that produced a second international hat-trick.
Scotland arrived at Twickenham with what was considered their best chance of recording a first victory in the fixture since 1983, only to concede the highest number of points witnessed in the history of the Calcutta Cup.
Beset by injury – including the early loss of full-back Stuart Hogg to concussion – and offering flimsy resistance in defence, they never recovered from the mindless second-minute sin-binning of hooker Fraser Brown, who saw 10 points leaked during his absence.
England wrapped up the title with a round to spare for a second successive year and head to Dublin for Saturday’s climax to the tournament intent on becoming only the sixth team to have defended the Grand Slam.
Also at stake against Ireland will be a unique place in history with a 19th consecutive win nudging them past the milestone set by the All Blacks last year.
Joe Schmidt’s side may have to get to grips with Billy Vunipola from the start. The Saracens number eight celebrated his second-half cameo from the bench with a try in his first game after knee surgery.
Owen Farrell is also firing again, shrugging off a poor afternoon against Italy and the dead leg that threatened his involvement in the Calcutta Cup to kick 26 points, missing just one shot at goal.
The poor starts that have marred England’s tournament were a distant memory as they surged 13-0 ahead with only 15 minutes on the clock, albeit with help from willing opponents.
Brown was sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle on Elliot Daly – the Wasps wing departed for head injury assessment, returned and then left for a final time – and Scotland’s defence then splintered far too easily when attacked from a scrum.
Joseph took George Ford’s pass and with Mike Brown acting as a decoy runner, the Bath centre was able to race through a gap while shrugging off Alex Dunbar to touch down.
The boot of Farrell contributed the conversion and two penalties and there was no respite for beleaguered Scotland, who saw Hogg leave for a head injury assessment that he failed before his replacement Mark Bennett departed with a sprained ankle.
And a grim afternoon continued to deteriorate for the Scots as they were again subjected to a clean pair of heels from Joseph, this time the line-out offering the platform for England to pounce.
Bath colleague Ford pulled the strings once more and while there was an element of Joseph being waved through, the footwork that swept him through a number of blue shirts was world class.
Scotland responded with a try from an attacking line-out, prop Gordon Reid burrowing over to reward the decision not to go for goal.
But it was not the precursor to a revival as England produced their most thrilling try yet with Joseph turning provider, taking Farrell’s pass and weaving into space before feeding the scoring pass to Watson.
The Joseph masterclass continued into the second half when the 25-year-old breathed new life into a dying move before arriving on to Ben Youngs’ pass several phases later to complete his hat-trick.
Huw Jones barged over to halt the one-way traffic and once Vunipola had forced his weight across the whitewash from close range after a line-out drive, Jones was able to side step his way through a splintering English defence for his second.
The match had become a ragged free-for-all and Danny Care was the last player to take advantage as England completed the afternoon with two late tries from their replacement scrum-half.