TWICKENHAM -- England's best performance under Eddie Jones saw them rack up a world record-equalling win and the Six Nations title as they put Scotland to the sword at Twickenham.
Scotland were hamstrung with injuries, with discipline and accuracy letting them down, but this was a match where the real England stood up. There was a nasty, brilliant ruthlessness about this England side; no opportunities were squandered and despite having their foot on Scotland's throat from minute two when Fraser Brown was sin-binned, they kept on increasing the pressure.
The visitors battled valiantly, but the contest was over after 18 minutes when Stuart Hogg was forced off injured. If this was a boxing bout, the referee would have called it a day around then. Instead it was the lone bagpipe player in the east stand who played the role of Twickenham's fat lady, who started their solitary aria soon after Anthony Watson scored England's third first-half try.
After racking up a Calcutta Cup record of 30 first-half points, England added a further 31 in the second 40, as Twickenham bounced to the rhythm of Jones' Six Nations champions. It was the most points they had scored in a Six Nations match in 16 years.
This performance was the one we have been waiting for; one almost full of spite at the doubters. On Thursday when Jones gave his spikiest press conference as England boss, it was easy to forget they had won 17 games on the bounce. Only the world champion All Blacks had ever enjoyed a longer streak.
But this was their crowning glory with everything going to plan, from their dominant set piece, to strike moves working off first phase, to Owen Farrell's near-perfect kicking performance. Jones had sleepless nights after their win over France in round one of the Six Nations -- this was the stuff of dreams.
Courtney Lawes was sensational for England, and it was no coincidence that he played a key role in securing lineout ball for their first-half scores. He has been England's player of the Six Nations, with Daly his closest rival for that crown, but he was aided ably by Joe Launchbury whose work-rate was astounding. Joseph had his finest attacking game since his hat-trick in Rome last year -- he matched that feat here by the 45th minute -- while George Ford showed an assuredness which was lacking against Italy in the last round. England's front-row was also heroic, with Joe Marler superb.
And then there was Farrell. Due to the doublespeak that sometimes emanates from a Jones press conference, you are sometimes left with few reference points to ascertain exactly what is going on around key pre-match issues. This week it was around Farrell's left leg, which had apparently been knocked dead in training. But that sturdy old pin stood up to everything come game time and the only indication that there was ever any doubt over him starting was the heavy strapping around his hamstring. As off-colour a game as he had against Italy last time out, this was the polar opposite as he played with the assuredness of a playmaker with 51 Test caps.
"Though Scotland were meant to be throwing the kitchen sink at England, they barely even chucked a pair of taps."Tom Hamilton
It was a title-winning campaign that started with uncertainty for England. They had a lengthy injury list, and left it oh so very late to beat France in the opening round, Ben Te'o scoring the winning try late on. That uneasiness around a below-par performance continued into Cardiff where again they scored in the final throes of the match to secure victory, Elliot Daly the hero on that occasion. Against Italy, they were left bamboozled by the anti-ruck 'fox' tactic unleashed by Conor O'Shea, but they racked up the bonus point win all the same.
And then with Scotland it all came together. The mark of a good team is one that can raise their level when they are faced with a threat. Though Scotland were meant to be throwing the kitchen sink at England, they barely even chucked a pair of taps. Instead England's vice-like grip on the match played out through minutes one to 80 as they laughed in the face of those who felt they were teetering on the brink of a collapse. By the 56th minute, they had broken the Calcutta Cup record for most points scored by one team.
For so long after the Sir Clive Woodward era ended, the Twickenham trophy cabinet lay dusty and unloved. When Jones arrived in late 2015, England had won one Six Nations since 2003. They have now won both since.
Challenges remain, though, and records still stand to be broken. Up next is Ireland in Dublin as England chase the grand slam and a victory that would take them to 19 straight, a world record that will eclipse the mighty All Blacks. Critics were answered at Twickenham, England found some bite, but they will be wanting their second grand slam in as many years before they risk drawing breath.