Four Nations: England 38 Scotland 12
Wigan stand-off George Williams helped England to an ultimately comfortable seven-try victory against Scotland.
He created two tries early in the second-half to ease any concerns of a shock upset, after the Bravehearts trailed just 12-8 at the break.
Williams had already been named official man of the match prize before laying a match-crowing try for club-mate Liam Farrell.
While this win was not as comprehensive as England fans wanted and may have expected, it kept alive their hopes of reaching the final.
Attention now turns to next Sunday’s Test against Australia at London Stadium, a match the host nation must win to stand any chance of progressing to Anfield the following week.
By half-time at a freezing Ricoh Arena in Coventry, fans could have been forgiven for feeling downbeat.
The highlight of the opening half was an impressive try by Matty Russell, which helped Scotland to a scarcely-believable 8-0 lead by the 24th minute.
England forward Elliott Whitehead managed to cross twice - both converted by Luke Gale - to make it 12-8 at the break, but it was not the performance many had hoped for.
In other circumstances, a close, tense game may have been welcomed by English fans, but not this. They knew their side needed to post points to keep alive any hopes of reaching the final at Anfield.
Perhaps that pressure got to England, or perhaps that suggestion doesn’t do justice to Scotland’s efforts, but either way Wayne Bennett’s side looked jittery and made too many errors.
Two Wigan players, Williams and Farrell, came into the side beaten 17-16 by New Zealand a week earlier. But two - John Bateman and Dan Sarginson - dropped out, while ex-Warrior Scott Taylor replaced injured James Graham in the front-row.
Scotland had Warrior Lewis Tierney on the wing, with Wiganers Matty Russell and Sam Brooks also in Steve McCormack’s squad.
Scotland had a classy backline comprised entirely of NRL and Super League players, but they were solid in the middle, too.
Cowboys centre Kane Linnett sliced through to become the first player to score in a Test between Scotland and England. They settled into an arm-wrestle, which had the right amount of friction to make it feel like a Test match. In once instance, Liam Hood stood over and gave a mouthful to Jonny Lomax, who seconds earlier had stopped a Danny Brough breakaway.
Russell, the only player in the Sottish team born north of the border, extended the Bravehearts’ lead in spectacular fashion. He collected Lachlan Coote’s pass, wriggled out of Jermaine McGillvary’s tackle and managed to ground the ball before being bundled into touch.
England, though, managed to press their authority before the break. First, Whitehead slipped past Coote in the 28th minute, and added a second eight minutes later from Gale’s kick, the latter tagging on both conversions.
An impressive fireworks display at half-time briefly muted the conversations about England’s lacklustre display.
But after a messy start to the second-half, Williams helped spark them into life by creating two tries in six minutes.
First, a crabbing run picked Scotland’s defence apart enough for Mark Percival - starting ahead of Sarginson - to cross and make it 16-8. And moments later, he took a pass and, sensing the on-rushing defender, quickly angled a shallow grubber into the path of Ryan Hall, who touched down for his 30th try in as many Tests.
Gale’s conversion made it 22-8, and Scotland’s cause wasn’t helped by the sinbinning of captain Brough for a professional foul, during which time England swelled their lead through tries by McGillvary and Gale.
It didn’t all go England’s way, and they needed a terrific tackle by Lomax to stop Danny Addy crossing for a try before Brough returned to the fold.
Dale Ferguson’s try narrowed the margin to 20-points
England: Lomax; McGillvary, Watkins, Percival, Hall; Williams, Gale; Hill, Hodgson, Taylor, Farrell, Whitehead, S Burgess (c). Subs: T Burgess, G Burgess, Cooper, Clark.
Scotland: Coote; Tierney, Aitken, Linnett, Russell; Brough, Addy; Walker, Hood, Douglas, Hellewell, Ferguson, Kavanagh. Subs: Cassel, Mariano, Phillips, Brooks.
Referee: Gerard Sutton (Australia)
Starman: George Williams