Somehow, I maintained enough interest to sit through the entirety of the Calcutta Cup earlier. It was a match punctuated by mistakes rather than moments of brilliance; by aimless punts rather than placed kicks. The Scots, by the unanimous agreement of the BBC pundits present, lost the match more than the English won it. Here are a few observations:

1) This looked very much like the first game of a tournament

Debutant Owen Farrell kicked eight of England's 13 points

Both sides were extremely sloppy. Scotland’s second penalty, from which they briefly took the lead at 6-3, was conceded by Chris Ashton attacking away from the rest of the English line following a scrum, running straight into half the Scottish pack, then refusing to a) go to ground or b) release the ball. Scotland, on the other hand, wasted numerous opportunities to get into try-scoring positions with poor passing and, on one occasion, spectacular tunnel vision by Ross Rennie.

Both English debutant Owen “Son of Andy” Farrell and the veteran Dan Parks missed kicks, and some of the territory kicking – especially by Scotland – was terrible. Both sides have plenty to tidy up on before next weekend.

2) England’s fresh faces need more time to gel

This is one of the least experienced national sides I can remember. There are so many young or internationally inexperienced players in this squad, all the way from Alex Corbisiero at prop to Dave Strettle on the wing – 18 of England’s 32-man Six Nations squad had 10 or fewer caps to their name before today’s game. Even the more established Charlie Hodgson, preferred to Toby Flood at fly-half but not entrusted with kicking duties, has been a peripheral player for England for some time.

Stuart Lancaster threatened as soon as he was appointed that he would shake up the national team’s selection policy, but this performance served as a reminder that no-one should expect immediate dividends.

3) Bravery, commitment and determination can pay dividends

England’s defining (positive) quality in victory was their mental strength. Scotland were solidly on top for the last fifteen minutes of the first half but the English defence stood firm; Hodgson’s try in the first 30 seconds of the second half was a try borne solely out of opportunism, awareness and determination to get to the ball. Lancaster’s men can be proud of their now proven ability to maintain calm and clarity of thought. Now they must translate that ability to their hands, and improve their passing and creativity.

4) David Denton is onto something

David Denton put in an excellent shift for Scotland

The rampaging number 8, who turns 22 in the morning, was Scotland’s outstanding player, and as such the deserving man of the match. Denton was seemingly everywhere when the Scots were on the defensive and his marauding bursts through the English midfield provided some of the game’s most exciting moments. With the likes of Ali Kellock not starting in their back row today, Scotland can be assured that they have real strength in depth at this position – and that Denton will take some dislodging.

5) Creativity doesn’t always yield the results it deserves

Scotland were the dominant attacking force of the game. By contrast with their opponents, they looked reasonably fluid and confident going forward and putting plays together, only for repeated mistakes to unhinge their forward pushes. This is a recurring problem now for a very low-scoring Scotland side. As well as Rennie’s error in the second half, Gregg Laidlaw was unlucky to be denied a try when he dived for a loose ball with a desperate Ben Youngs. Richie Gray – another promising prospect in the Scottish back row – wrong-footed several defenders only to throw possession away with a careless pass.

Scotland definitely have the individual talents in their ranks to be more successful than they are currently showing. If Andy Robinson can iron out the handling deficiencies in his squad, they have a chance to achieve something at this Six Nations. How far they can go remains to be seen.

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