england, scotland rugby.jpg
Photograph: Photo by England Kath, used under CC BY

England opened their Six Nations campaign with a 15-9 victory over Scotland Saturday while France suffered a scare against Italy before prevailing 23-21 thanks to a late long-range penalty from Jules Plisson.

Tries in each half from George Kruis and Jack Nowell secured the victory at Murrayfield to give new England coach Eddie Jones a well deserved win in his first match in charge of the tournament favourites.

Kruis powered over the Scottish line on 13 minutes with Owen Farrell adding the extras to open up a seven-point lead but two penalties from Greig Laidlaw saw the home side trailing by just a point at the break.

Deft handling by replacement prop Mako Vunipola helped Nowell squeeze over in the corner for England's second try five minutes after the restart while a Farrell penalty moved the visitors nine points ahead.

Laidlaw reduced the deficit to six points with another penalty with 12 minutes remaining after Courtney Lawes was adjudged to be offside but Scotland were unable to force the converted try that would have snatched victory.

"It’s a good start. Not the prettiest performance," new England captain Dylan Hartley told the BBC.

"It was physical and we're happy to get that one out the way. We’ll do something good and then our discipline costs us. Scotland were ferocious at the breakdown."

Earlier, France salvaged a scarcely deserved 23-21 victory against Italy at the Stade de France.

"It wasn't easy for us today," Italy centre Michele Campagnaro told the BBC.

"France's squad is very hard to beat here at home. I think we put in the right commitment. It's something we can go back to Italy with, but we're disappointed."

Underdogs Italy dominated the early exchanges and deservedly went ahead on eight minutes through a Carlo Canna drop goal but France responded six minutes later when Virimi Vakatawa stepped inside the final tackler to touch down in the corner.

Captain Sergio Parisse got Italy's first try of the game on 25 minutes off a lineout maul but another try by France flanker Damien Chouly saw the home side go into the break leading 10-8.

Canna moved Italy back in front with a penalty two minutes after the restart and the stand-off converted his own try on 45 minutes to move the Azzurri into a surprise 18-10 lead.

France responded again through Hugo Bonneval, who scored in the corner after 58 minutes with Plisson adding the extras.

Plisson moved France ahead with a penalty before Kelly Haimona edged Italy back in front with a penalty of his own with just eight minutes remaining.

However, Italy were denied a first ever victory at the Stade de France when Plisson landed a monster penalty with five minutes remaining to seal the hard-fought win.

The first round of matches in the Six Nations concludes Sunday when defending champions Ireland take on Wales in Dublin.

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