Match report: Scotland stun lacklustre England
March 8, 2008
Mike Blair lifts the Calcutta Cup for Scotland
© Getty Images
Scotland notched their first win of this year's Six Nations Championship with a 15-9 victory over England at Murrayfield. Scotland repeated their victory over England in 2006 with another courageous defensive performance to regain the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield.
Chris Paterson kicked four penalties and Dan Parks added one for Frank Hadden's side. Jonny Wilkinson replied with three for England - the first of which made him the highest points scorer in Test history - in a scrappy match in Edinburgh.
Iain Balshaw retained the full-back shirt for England in the Calcutta Cup match with Scotland as a result of Danny Cipriani's demotion for disciplinary reasons 48 hours after being named in Brian Ashton's original selection. Tom Croft - impressive in the back row as a replacement for James Haskell against France - was handed his first international start by Ashton, who also dropped veteran hooker Mark Regan in favour of the more mobile Lee Mears.
Under-pressure Scotland coach Frank Hadden preferred Graeme Morrison at centre in place of his vastly more experienced Glasgow team-mate Andy Henderson. Simon Taylor played his first match of this year's RBS 6 Nations Championship after recovering from a hand injury but fit-again captain Jason White was only named on the bench.
Balshaw knew he was in for an aerial bombardment, having not been secure under the high ball so far in this Six Nations, and it took little more than 90 seconds for Chris Paterson to test the Gloucester man. It was 10 yards too deep, though. Despite the wet and windy conditions, the 2001 Lion - a substitute winger in England's defeat in Edinburgh in 2000 - dealt with it competently.
It was Scotland's full-back Hugo Southwell who spilled a high ball in the early stages, but his captain Mike Blair was on hand to tidy up. Scotland were able to make progress into England's 22 when Bath lock Steve Borthwick was penalised by South African referee Jonathan Kaplan for holding on in a ruck.
From the subsequent maul, Nick Easter was adjudged to have joined from the side - and Paterson landed his 27th consecutive successful kick for Scotland to give his side a 3-0 lead in the ninth minute.
Just after the midway point in the half Scotland were forced into a substitution when Rory Lamont was carried off after a six-minute delay for treatment following a collision with Balshaw and was replaced by Dan Parks. The Sale winger had collected a loose ball deep in Scotland's 22 but was struck in the face by Balshaw's knee as the England star slid in to challenge for the ball.
With only Parks and scrum-half Rory Lawson on Scotland's forward-dominated replacements bench, it meant Paterson moving to Lamont's position on the wing and the Glasgow man taking over at stand-off.
Scotland's defence stood firm against concerted pressure on their own line from England's forwards following Lamont's departure although it came at a cost, hooker Ross Ford limping off to be replaced by Fergus Thomson.
The Glasgow forward was straight into the action with a scrum in his own 22 at which Kaplan penalised the Scotland front row to hand Jonny Wilkinson his first kick at goal in the 27th minute. The Newcastle stand-off made no mistake to become the leading points scorer in international rugby with 1,093 - overtaking Neil Jenkins of Wales - after the IRB granted Test status to his 20 points for the Lions against Argentina in 2005.
Scotland were back ahead three minutes later though, Paterson knocking over a simple penalty after prop Andrew Sheridan encroached at a ruck in front of his own posts. Wilkinson missed the chance to reply a minute before half-time when his effort - against a backdrop of jeers - landed short of the posts. Paterson then increased Scotland's lead with the last action of the half after Simon Shaw was penalised as Hadden's men closed the first period with a slender 9-3 advantage.
Paterson increased Scotland's lead to 12-3 in the first minute of the second half with a simple penalty, after England were penalised for not releasing the ball in the ruck which formed following the restart. Parks took over the kicking duties in the 48th minute and landed another penalty to make it 15-3 despite, like Paterson's effort on the stroke of half-time, it not being the most pure of strikes.
Scotland were caught offside at a ruck less than a minute later though and this time Wilkinson made the home side pay to draw his team to within nine points of the hosts. The quality of the game was getting no better as it progressed and, after an up-and-under from Parks which went backwards, Hadden's forward were penalised for joining a ruck from the side.
Wilkinson slotted over his third penalty and England were clearly playing with more purpose and enthusiasm than they had in the first half. Perhaps noting England's greater influence on the game, Hadden introduced White for Scott MacLeod in the second row and prop Alasdair Dickinson for Allan Jacobsen as the stuttering game entered its final quarter.
Ashton replied by sending on George Chuter, Ben Kay and Matthew Tait for Shaw, Mears and the ineffective Toby Flood while Hadden also replaced his other prop Euan Murray with Craig Smith. In the most surprising of the flurry of substitutions Wilkinson was taken off with Charlie Hodgson - only in the matchday 22 as a result of Cipriani's demotion - entering the fray.
White's first significant contribution was a wonderful tackle on Paul Sackey in the 74th minute which led to a turnover and an attacking scrum for the home side. Matt Stevens was penalised for holding on with three minutes remaining and Parks found touch on the edge of England's 22 and Scotland's forwards kept the ball impressively to effectively close out a much-needed victory.
Scotland (6) 15
England (3) 9
Scotland: H Southwell (Edinburgh); R Lamont (Sale Sharks), S Webster (Edinburgh), G Morrison (Glasgow), N Walker (Ospreys); C Paterson (Gloucester), M Blair (Edinburgh, capt); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton), N Hines (Perpignan), S MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets), A Strokosch (Gloucester), A Hogg (Edinburgh), S Taylor (Stade Francais).
Replacements: F Thomson (Glasgow), A Dickinson (Gloucester), C Smith (Edinburgh), J White (Sale Sharks), K Brown (Glasgow), R Lawson (Gloucester), D Parks (Glasgow).
England: I Balshaw (Gloucester); P Sackey (Wasps), J Noon (Newcastle), T Flood (Newcastle), L Vainikolo (Gloucester); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), R Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps, capt), S Shaw (Wasps), S Borthwick (Bath), T Croft (Leicester), M Lipman (Bath), N Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: G Chuter (Leicester), M Stevens (Bath), B Kay (Leicester), L Narraway (Gloucester), P Hodgson (London Irish), M Tait (Newcastle), C Hodgson (Sale Sharks).
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa).
Touch judges: Marius Jonker (South Africa) and Carlo Damasco (Italy).