England opens 6 Nations with 13-6 win at Scotland
Updated: February 04, 2012, 14:01
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EDINBURGH, Scotland(AP) England's rebuilt side beat Scotland 13-6 in an error-strewn Six Nations opener on Saturday, kicking off its defense of the title with a first win at Murrayfield since 2004.
Debut-making inside center Owen Farrell kicked eight points and recalled flyhalf Charlie Hodgson charged down Dan Parks' clearing kick 29 seconds into the second half to score the first try in the fixture since England's 35-13 victory eight years ago.
England can head into next week's test at Italy in high spirits, while Scotland could be set for another tussle with the Italians to avoid the wooden spoon if it continues to waste its openings.
"That's just the start for us,'' Farrell said. "We worked unbelievably hard for each other. We can still get better and better.''
Parks kicked all of the points to give Scotland, which is at Wales next on Feb. 12, a 6-3 halftime lead but played a crucial role in the moment that turned the match.
The Scots had the chance to kick the ball clear of danger after receiving from the kickoff but instead chose to play it along the line.
The ball ended up in Parks' hands, almost on the line, but his attempted clearance was charged down by the outstretched arms of the chasing Hodgson and the England No. 10 grounded almost in the same movement to make it 8-3.
Farrell kicked the conversion to stretch the advantage.
Hodgson, starting his first test since June 2008, scored the last of his previous six international tries six years ago against Italy.
Replacement Greig Laidlaw thought he put Scotland back in front at the start of the final quarter but the TV official told the referee that the halfback failed to put downward pressure on the ball when he stretched out over Ben Youngs' shoulder as the pair raced back over the England tryline.
Scotland openside Ross Rennie then seemed to have created the opening for a match-winning try when he burst through a gap in the visiting defense but he delayed his inside pass and lost it in a tackle from fullback Ben Foden.
Instead of Scotland getting back in the match, Farrell then added the final points with a second penalty seven minutes before the end.
The buildup to the match centered on the youthful promise of a rebuilt England side and the need for Scotland to shed its cautious approach of recent years after losing the trusty boot of Chris Paterson to retirement.
But the first half at Murrayfield was a typically dour example of rugby union's oldest international fixture, first played in 1871 and now in its 130th edition.
Farrell, half of England's first uncapped center partnership since 2002, missed a shot at goal before putting England 3-0 ahead with a 23rd-minute kick awarded for not releasing after Parks spilled a high kick.
Parks leveled the scores moments later after new England captain Chris Robshaw was penalized for tackling off the feet and then stroked the home side into a 6-3 halftime lead after wing Chris Ashton - one of the survivors from England's Rugby World Cup squad to start the match - was whistled for not releasing.
England 13 (Charlie Hodgson try; Owen Farrell 2 penalties, conversion), Scotland 6 (Dan Parks 2 penalties). HT: 3-6.