Scotland clinch Calcutta Cup
February 25, 2006
Scotland skipper Jason White lifts the Calcutta Cup
© Getty Images
Scotland blew the 2006 Six Nations wide open as their organisation, intelligence and commitment outpointed England's bludgeoning at a cold, windswept Murrayfield.
Their resistance was epitomised by the superb tackle by Jason White that rolled Joe Worsley over and forced a turnover as England pressed in the dying seconds. England, particularly in the first half, had more than enough possession to win but with both Charlie Hodgson and Josh Lewsey having quiet games England showed minimal creativity. So long as Scotland went on covering and tackling they had every chance.
With France and England already beaten, Scotland have a real chance of being champions themselves. But this defeat for England, meaning there will be no Grand Slam this year and only Ireland can win a Triple Crown, will also have rekindled ambitions in Cardiff, Dublin and Paris. While Chris Paterson kicked five penalties to HodgsonÕs four, the crucial moment was Dan Parks 56th minute drop-goal.
Scotland already led 9-6, with Paterson replying twice inside six minutes to the penalty with which Hodgson had started the second half, when the much-maligned Scottish outside-half launched the best minute of his international career with a booming penalty to the English 22.
Scotland won the line-out - far from a given in this match - and drove towards the English posts before Mike Blair laid the ball back for Parks to calmly land his drop from 30 metres. Scotland for the first time had a clear edge and while Hodgson twice cut the deficit, each time Paterson struck back to restore it.
Lawrence Dallaglio's introduction at the expense of an unamused looking Martin Corry after 63 minutes made no perceptible difference and England should have no complaint.
The first half had been characterised by English pressure and Scottish resistance, meaning that half-time speculation inevitably focussed on debating whether EnglandÕs inability to capitalise or the physical impact of Scotland's marathon tackling session would take a greater toll in the later stages.
Scotland had taken a second minute lead. England attempted to run possession from the kick-off, Lewsey threw forward to Ben Cohen. Scotland attacked in turn from the ensuing scrum, England killed the ruck on the 22 metre line and Paterson converted the penalty.
But within six minutes England were level, Hodgson on target from a similar distance after a sustained spell of pressure during which Cohen had been held only a metre from the Scottish line. And that was the pattern for most of the rest of the half with only rare breaks, during one of which England lock Danny Grewcock added to his long list of disciplinary infractions by getting yellow carded to taking out Alistair Kellock.
But Scotland, hampered by continual difficulties with their line-out, were unable to take advantage of their 10-minute numerical superiority. Instead England continued to dominate territory and possession and might have taken the lead if Hodgson had landed a 27th minute penalty attempt accompanied by a barrage of boos that sadly went without rebuke from the public address.
But Scotland's spirited and well-organised defence proved more than a match for England's assaults, holding them at bay and winning turnovers at crucial moments.
England gained fresh momentum with Grewcock's return and threatened to emulate Wales's penalty try against Scotland in the last round of matches as they created massive pressure five metres out. But the award of two consecutive scrum penalties was followed by the decision to move the ball on the blind side to Cohen, who knocked-on with only Paterson between him and the line three metres away to leave it 3-3 at the break.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin