Gareth Dyer’s rugby column

Jonathan Joseph spearheaded a rout of Scotland last weekend
Jonathan Joseph spearheaded a rout of Scotland last weekend
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And sent him homeward, Tae think again… The line in ‘Flower of Scotland’ about Robert the Bruce’s victory over Edward II in the battle of Bannockburn had a different type of resonance on Saturday.

Not in the way the Scottish supporters would have hoped for pre-kick off when there was an air of optimism that, after 30-plus years of empty handed raids on Twickenham, this might finally be the year the Scots ended their HQ hoodoo.

It took England precisely 10 minutes to put the game to bed. The game was completely over as a contest after 30 minutes.

I’ve mentioned before about players being mentally right at kick-off to ensure they balance their adrenaline fuelled intent to enter the physical battle with a calm headed authority to control their play.

Alas for Scotland it took hooker Fraser Brown precisely two minutes to set the wrong tone for his side. A late and obvious tip tackle on Elliot Daly led to a sin bin and his team never recovered from being reduced to 14 men so early in the game.

England could hardly believe their luck. They already had their plans to expose weaknesses in the Scottish team and they ruthlessly imposed them on what was a surprisingly brittle Scottish team.

It is commonly accepted that teams with the numerical advantage score between 7 and10 points whilst the opposition have a player in the bin.

England did precisely that to be 10-0 up when Brown returned to the fray. That he was then to overthrow his first lineout so badly that England were afforded a further simple three points just added insult to Brown’s self-inflicted injury.

Add in some real injuries to Scottish players and it was as if Vern Cotter’s side’s game-plan had been entitled “International Rugby – How not to do it”.

England appeared to almost stroll through the game. Their performance was clearly a step up from the error-strewn, head scratcher that has been the Italy game.

But surely it was supposed to be harder than this? After all this was a Scottish team that had beaten Ireland and Wales and was close in defeat to France in Paris.

The home side didn’t have to get much past third gear. To score one try direct from first phase possession is a coach’s dream these days and takes usually a lot of imagination and impeccable execution.

That England did it twice in the first half alone would have had Eddie Jones purring if it hadn’t felt quite as easy as it was.

Jonathan Joseph will probably never score an easier hat-trick in his career, even if he was to spend the next 10 years playing touch rugby on Moor Park.

The worry for England that this might have been a bit too easy before they travel to Dublin to take on Ireland for a repeat Grand Slam.

The positives of 
Saturday’s romp was that they have fine-tuned their 
attacking game and have come through unscathed in terms of injuries – save for Daly’s concussion issue.

In some respects, what happens in Dublin will be an early acid test for how Eddie’s England are developing.

Ireland are sure to be fired up and the atmosphere of a St Patrick’s Day weekend shootout in the Irish capital will make it an electric 
atmosphere.

English sides of a recent vintage have struggled to overcome emotionally supercharged opposition in recent years. But I sense this will be very different story on Saturday for two big reasons.

Firstly, this Irish team has badly underperformed in this Six Nations and effectively go into the match with nothing more than trying to keep their top-four World Ranking intact to ensure they miss the bigger teams in the pool stages in Japan.

As I said before the tournament, Ireland are a very structured team who seem only able to play in a pre-determined way. Joe Schmidt is all about detail and tactical discipline but there seems little in the way of a Plan B and the Irish players look mentally fatigued by their coach’s gruelling mental approach.

Secondly, this is Eddie’s England. You cannot believe that Jones will allow his team to coast into Dublin believing that there will be polite applause and a lot of congratulatory smoke being blown up the exhaust pipe of the English chariot.

No, Jones will have his team focused and on edge and I believe it is they who will carry the emotional motivation come kick off. They have the pace and power to burn an Irish team that is quickly becoming one paced and predictable.

And should they do so it will be further evidence that England are very much the real deal under Jones’ astute management.