England reveal ‘signs of something special’

JASON ROBINSON believes there are “signs of something special” after England’s World Cup heroes reunited to launch the Brian Ashton era in trophy-winning fashion at Twickenham.

Success-starved England supporters had cried out for what unfolded in the 124th playing of international rugby’s oldest fixture – Robinson scoring tries and Jonny Wilkinson breaking records.

There were flashbacks to 2003 when England conquered planet rugby, as Wilkinson dropped a goal and Robinson slithered his way over to score in the left-hand corner. But far more significantly, it was the start of head coach Ashton’s brave new world, a time when players will be encouraged to perform without fear, rather than don strait-jackets.

England, of course, began the 2006 Six Nations with an emphatic home victory by smashing Wales 47-13, then spectacularly lost their way through a depressing combination of poor selection, dreadful tactics and individual blunders.

But Ashton has already enthused a radically reshaped team and only their second win in the last 10 Tests was inspired by fly-half superstar Wilkinson. His 27-point haul created a new individual Calcutta Cup record. Not even Wilkinson’s rugby mentor – and previous record holder – Rob Andrew could have predicted such a spectacular comeback.

Typically, Wilkinson’s response was to point out that the hard work starts now – or otherwise everything he has been through will be “worthless”.

“To be back and to be involved after some of the feelings I have had over my injury period does feel like a bit of dream really,” Wilkinson reacted.

“We have got a big game at the weekend and it is important now we are setting the bar and getting better each week, coming through as a better side — otherwise going through all this is worthless.”

Wilkinson added: “For us as a team, it is merely one game. We feel we are judged on our next game, not our last one and have a big week ahead of us.”

The England fly-half scored a controversial try during the second half, when his right leg appeared to have made contact with the ground in touch.

The video official ruled in his favour, and Wilkinson then slotted the touchline conversion for good measure.

“I had a quick look and thought it was going to be close,” he said.

“I thought my leg was close to the touchline going down just on or before my hand did. Someone has a chance to watch it very closely, and can get the decision right, but it is not something I really reflect on.”

Wilkinson added: “Whether it is my 20th game in a row, or my first after three-and-a-half years, it is just something you care about so much.

“You want it to go well, you want to win and the team to do well, to fulfil your role. Because you have prepared so hard, it does mean a lot, so the nerves come from that.’’

“Jonny was outstanding,” added Jason Robinson. “He has hardly had any game time in the last three years, but to come in and perform under so much pressure was superb. He has all the skills, and he loves the big stage.’’

England scorers — Tries: Robinson 2, Wilkinson, Lund. Cons: Wilkinson 2. Pens: Wilkinson 5. Drop Goals: Wilkinson.

Scotland scorers — Tries: Taylor, Dewey. Cons: Paterson 2. Pens: Paterson 2.

ENGLAND: Morgan, Lewsey, Tindall, Farrell, Robinson, Wilkinson, Ellis, Freshwater, Chuter, Vickery, Deacon, Grewcock, Worsley, Lund, Corry.

Replacements: Flood for Wilkinson (74), Mears for Chuter (74), White for Vickery (74), Rees for Worsley (62).

SCOTLAND: Southwell, S. Lamont, Di Rollo, Henderson, Paterson, Parks, Cusiter, Kerr, Hall, E. Murray, Hamilton, Kellock, Taylor, Brown, Callam.

Replacements: Dewey for Henderson (62), R. Lamont for Parks (69), Lawson for Cusiter (67), Jacobsen for Kerr (55), Ford for Hall (64), S. Murray for Hamilton (60), Hogg for Brown (62).

Attendance: 82,000

Referee: M. Jonker (South Africa).

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