England dig in to beat Scotland 13-6
Edinburgh: England began the defence of their Six Nations title by beating Scotland 13-6 for a first win at Murrayfield in four attempts on Saturday to begin Stuart Lancaster`s "new era" on a high.
England, with three uncapped starters and another four making their debuts from the bench, delivered an impressive defensive display in a typically scrappy Calcutta Cup match and scored the only try of the game in the first minute of the second half when flyhalf Charlie Hodgson charged down a Dan Parks kick.
Twenty-year-old centre Owen Farrell converted it and also landed two penalties in an assured debut while Parks scored two penalties for Scotland, who led 6-3 at the break but wasted a series of promising positions with knock-ons, dropped balls and wayward passes.
It was an encouraging start for Lancaster, given charge of the team for the Six Nations, as England found a way to win a difficult game after losing two and drawing one of their previous three games at Murrayfield.
"It`s a tough place to come an win so that was a great result," Lancaster told reporters.
"We didn`t get everything right but we got a lot of things right, especially in defence where we showed great spirit and willingness to work.
"We always had an inner confidence in those (new) players and we`re delighted to get off the mark but it`s only step one."
England fans around Edinburgh were fully supportive of Lancaster`s approach but it was hard to find any who thought they would win the game - unlike the bookmakers who rated the visitors as narrow favourites.
Those odds might have been influenced by the way England found a way to beat the Scots 16-12 in their winner-takes-all World Cup pool game last October despite being outplayed for most of the match and Saturday`s game was similar in pattern.
Farrell put England ahead with a penalty only for Parks to stroke two over to give the Scots a halftime lead that they just about deserved after 40 undistinguished minutes of action.
The game came alive 29 seconds after the restart though as Parks took an age to line up a clearing kick five metres in front of his own tryline and Hodgson, the most experienced man in the England team, charged it down and fell on the ball to score.
It was the first try for either side in a Murrayfield Calcutta Cup clash since 2004 and after Farrell slotted the awkward conversion it was 10-6 and the visitors immediately began playing with more belief.
Only a wonderful tackle by impressive number eight Dave Denton prevented David Strettle scoring a second try after a pinpoint crossfield kick by Hodgson, who was growing in confidence by the minute in his first Six Nations start for six years.
Scotland fought back but though they broke through on a few occasions they failed to hold on to the ball and when replacement Greig Laidlaw chased his own chipped kick minutes after coming on and thought he had got a hand on it ahead of Ben Youngs, the video referee ruled otherwise.
England threw more debutants into the fray but the new-look team were impressively well-organised and disciplined too keep the hosts at arm`s length.
Farrell left a penalty short from halfway after 70 minutes but three minutes later he made no mistake from 35 metres to stretch the lead to seven.
The visitors then closed out the match impressively and will now look forward to their next match, away to Italy on February 11 with confidence.
Scotland, who were edged by England in their winner-takes-all World Cup pool clash last October, have now gone four matches without scoring a try and a frustrated coach Andy Robinson will go back to the drawing board
"It feels like deja vu and I`m bitterly disappointed," Robinson said.
"Once again we weren`t able to convert the chances we created. There`s a huge amount of frustration but we`ll just have to keep working hard in training putting the guys in those positions."