Despite an almighty scare in the first 30 minutes of the match, England have managed to hold off a spirited Scotland 38 points to 12 at Ricoh Arena in Coventry this morning (Sunday).
Scotland absolutely dominated the first half, surprisingly leading eight-nil after 25 minutes, but England regrouped to score a comfortable win over their British neighbours.
Scotland shocked the home side by scoring first in the sixth minute through left centre Kane Linnett. A well-executed backline move gave the Bravehearts the opening points and a four-nil lead.
The shocks continued with Scotland piling on the pressure to England with heavy defence.
The pressure led to more points with Scottish winger Matty Russell scoring an acrobatic try in the left corner in the 24th minute. The video referee took a good four-to-five minutes to decide whether he had scored the try, and much to the delight of Scottish fans, and the chagrin of England Coach Wayne Bennett, the try was awarded.
That effort sparked the opposition into action with Elliott Whitehead posting the first points for England three minutes later. A nicely worked move to the right created the hole for Whitehead to score. The try was converted, reducing the deficit to two points.
Whitehead scored his second try in the 36th minute, with a lucky bounce delivering him the four-pointer under the posts. Luke Gale converted to give the home side the lead for the first time in the match.
England went into the half time break with a 12-8 lead, with only goal kicking the difference, but the first half belonged to Scotland. They were hitting hard in defence and running some well-worked plays in attack, and they had England under pressure for a majority of the first 40 minutes.
England had clearly changed their tactics at half time as stopped trying to go around Scotland, and instead tried to go through them and over them up the middle of the field.
English captain Sam Burgess was held up over the line in the opening exchanges of the second half but England could not capitalise on the field position and possible points went begging.
England would regroup and would earn the opportunity to go wide, with points coming via try to centre Mark Percival in the 50th minute. The conversion bounced off the post, giving the English a 16-8 lead.
England would score again five minutes later when winger Ryan Hall scored his 30th try for England in his 30th Test match off a clever kick to the left corner. Gale converted from the touch line establishing a 22-8 lead.
Scottish captain Danny Brough earned himself ten minutes in the sin bin for a professional foul and two plays after his exit, England scored in the right corner through winger Jermaine McGillvary in the 58th minute.
Captain Sam Burgess set up the next try, making a big bust up the middle before drawing the fullback and passing to Gale to score under the posts in the 63rd minute. Gale converted to give England a 32-8 lead.
Moments later it would be Sam who would do some great work at the other end of the field, saving a try with some defensive smarts when Scotland looked certain to score.
The video referee awarded a try to Scotland second rower Dale Ferguson in the 70th minute after he reached out over his head in traffic to score. Brough missed his third conversion attempt, reducing the deficit to 20 points.
England were not finished yet with second rower Liam Farrell adding a final try after the full time siren. Gale converted to give England a hard fought 38-12 victory.
Thomas Burgess was one of England’s best, running for 177 metres in just 38 minutes of game time. Sam Burgess was also strong for England, particularly in the second half, nd George Burgess was dangerous, particularly with his quick play-the-balls close to the Scottish line.
England will go on to play Australia next weekend in London in the final round of the Four Nations tournament.
England 38 (Elliott Whitehead 2, Mark Percival, Ryan Hall, Jermaine McGillvary, Luke Gale, Liam Farrell tries; Luke Gale 5 goals)
Scotland 12 (Kane Linnett, Matthew Russell, Dale Ferguson tries)