LONDON (REUTERS) - England secured a second consecutive Six Nations title in emphatic style on Saturday (March 11) by thrashing a supposedly resurgent Scotland 61-21 with a scintillating display encapsulated by a superb hat-trick by recalled centre Jonathan Joseph.
England tore out of the blocks with a try after three minutes and never looked back as Danny Care claimed two tries and Anthony Watson and Billy Vunipola one each to go alongside the hat-trick for Joseph, who was dropped for the game against Italy two weeks ago.
The peerless Owen Farrell, an injury doubt before the game, kicked 26 points as England chalked up their highest score and joint-biggest win in 146 years of the oldest fixture in international rugby to retain the title with a game to spare.
They now have an unassailable lead on 18 points. Ireland and France, who gained a bonus point victory over Italy earlier, both have 10 points, then come Wales and Scotland on nine, with Italy last without a point.
England, whose previous highest score against the Scots was their 43-3 win in 2001, will now seek to complete back to back grand slams in Dublin next Saturday when they can also set a tier one record of successive wins after Saturday’s triumph drew them level with New Zealand on 18.
“We started well and our intensity was pretty good. It was the sort of performance we needed,” said England coach Eddie Jones.
“Scotland were confident, they came down here with high expectations and we needed to play well.
“I was really pleased with our effort and now the focus is on the Grand Slam next weekend. The exciting thing is that we are only just starting. We are one year into a four-year project and we will only get better.”
Scotland had not won at Twickenham for 34 years but arrived in good spirits with two wins under their belt having played some of their best rugby for many years.
EARLY YELLOW CARD
Their hopes of ending that barren run, however, were reeling within three minutes, completely sunk before a quarter of the match was played and looked risible by the time Care soared through the air for England’s spectacular seventh try.
Scottish hooker Fraser Brown was sin-binned in the second minute for a dangerous tackle that ended winger Elliot Daly’s afternoon early and in his absence England went 10-up with a razor-fast try by Joseph and a Farrell penalty.
Injuries to in-form fullback Stuart Hogg and his replacement Mark Bennett left Scotland in disarray and their soft centre was exposed again when Joseph, collecting quick ball from a lineout, sidestepped his way to the line for a 20-0 lead.
Scotland got on the board through prop Gordon Reid but it was the briefest of respites as Joseph yet again tore through the middle, this time unloading to Watson, making his first appearance since June, for a 30-7 halftime lead.
It was the first time in the championship that England had led at the break and emphatically erased coach Eddie Jones’ concerns about their slow starts.
England were just as quick out of the blocks in the second half as Joseph waltzed in for his hat-trick within three minutes.
Huw Jones snatched a second try for Scotland but England roared back as Vunipola charged over five minutes after coming on for his first appearance of the championship.
Care joined the fun, then sent Twickenham wild by diving gleefully over the line for the seventh after England had hammered at the door deep into stoppage time.
Farrell, uncharacteristically off target against Italy, converted with his 11th successful kick from 12 attempts – his only miss coming with a penalty shot from inside his own half.
“We just didn’t show up,” said Scotland captain John Barclay.
“We got off to a bad start and continued, our discipline was very poor and we gave away soft tries.
“We are trying to move away from the tag of lucky losers but that wasn’t even that – we were useless.”