England 61 Scotland 21: Jonathan Joseph stars as England clinch Six Nations 2017 title with ruthless Calcutta Cup triumph

Dylan Hartley celebrates with the Calcutta Cup (Photo: PA)
Dylan Hartley celebrates with the Calcutta Cup (Photo: PA)
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RECALLED Jonathan Joseph marked his return with a stylish hat-trick as emphatic England vanquished injury-ravaged Scotland and retained the Six Nations title with a fixture to spare.

The classy Bath centre was dropped for their last game against Italy, the first time coach Eddie Jones has left him out since taking over more 16 months ago.

But he was brilliant here, also creating a try for club-mate Anthony Watson as vibrant England easily claimed the Calcutta Cup and secured an 18th successive win, drawing level with New Zealand’s record.

They head to Dublin next Saturday with only Ireland standing in their way of consecutive grand slams, a triple crown and yet more history by surpassing that All Blacks’ total.

With Owen Farrell kicking 26 points and showing no signs of the injury that yesterday put his place in doubt, Courtney Lawes immense in the line-out and No8 Billy Vunipola scoring on his international return after a broken leg, it was all largely positive for Jones who remains the proud owner of a 100 per cent win record as England coach.

Spare a thought for Scotland, though, who having beaten Wales and Ireland arrived with such hope of possibly winning at Twickenham for the first time since 1983 and keeping their own title bid alive.

Jonathan Joseph ran in a hat-trick of tries (Photo: PA)

Jonathan Joseph ran in a hat-trick of tries (Photo: PA)

However, they were left in utter chaos after a succession of injuries meant FOUR different players filled in at full-back at various points throughout a ragged 80 minutes.

No8 Ryan Wilson also departed after clattering heads with Kyle Sinckler and they barely had anyone still fit and available on the bench by the end of a painful afternoon for them.

Certainly, it meant England losing Elliot Daly with a concussion inside the second minute paled into insignificance compared to their difficulties.
Granted, some were of their own making; hooker Fraser Brown, for instance, was sin-binned for that dangerous and needless challenge that saw Wasps winger Daly upended after passing wide.

By the time he returned to the field, England were 10-0 up - it was 30-7 by the interval - and well on their way to the title, dark memories of their first half disaster against Italy quickly banished.

Danny Care caps a fine England display with a swallow dive (Photo: PA)

Danny Care caps a fine England display with a swallow dive (Photo: PA)

Scotland’s wretched luck was highlighted when Mark Bennett pulled a hamstring barely four minutes after already replacing injured full-back Stuart Hogg in the 18th minute.

It meant winger Tommy Seymour was shifted to No15 and Ali Price, the scrum-half, was actually forced out wide onto the flank.
Worse still, early in the second period, Seymour then departed, too, after being felled by an illegal Nathan Hughes challenge that could easily have warranted a card as well.

Admittedly, rampant England were already 37-7 ahead by that point and Scotland’s major reshuffling was no excuse for their frailties in midfield where the hosts so often terrorised their bemused opponents.

Three times in the first half alone they scored scorching tries from fast line-out ball off the top.
Joseph got the first of his brace after just three minutes, directly from Brown’s indiscretion, getting on the outside of Alex Dunbar to embarrass the Scotland centre.

His second was a beautifully worked effort as he cruised through off George Ford’s delayed pass on a perfect line from 25m and, though Scotland prop Gordon Reid replied with a try against the run of play, it only delayed the points avalanche.

Next, again from line-out ball as Scotland disintegrated once more, Joseph surged clear from Farrell’s well-timed pass and then showed great footwork before supplying Watson, making his first appearance of the tournament as Daly’s replacement.

Joseph’s treble came courtesy of another fine angled run from close range off Ben Youngs’ pass at the start of the second period, the 25-year-old’s only blot being caught flat-footed as centre Huw Jones went over him to respond with another try for the visitors.

Fly-half Finn Russell, whose befuddled play made him look more like a timid tabby cat than potential British Lion, added his second conversion but Vunipola blasted over shortly after coming off the bench.

Jones - one of Scotland’s few remaining fit three-quarters - added his second in the 70th minute but former Leeds Tykes scrum-half Danny Care added a late double, the Yorkshireman scurrying over twice after great work first from Billy Vunipola and then his brother Mako.

England: Brown; Nowell, Joseph (Te’o 58), Farrell, May (Watson 2-10 16); Ford, Youngs (Care 61); Marler (M Vunipola 58), Hartley (George 52 Hartley 62-70 BB), Cole (Sinckler 61), Launchbury, Lawes (Wood 67), Itoje, Haskell, Hughes (B Vunipola 52).
Scotland: Hogg (Bennett 18-Pyrgos 22); Seymour (Weir 44), Jones, Dunbar, Visser; Russell, Price; Reid (Dell 44), Brown (Ford 44), Fagerson (Berghan 62), R Gray, J Gray (Swinson 74), Barclay, Watson, Wilson (du Preez 62).