England set up Grand Slam decider
March 22, 2003
Ben Cohen dives across the Scottish line to score
© Getty Images
It's official. Let the hype begin. Next Sunday, Lansdowne Road will host the dream finale to this year's RBS Six Nations with Ireland taking on England for the Grand Slam.
England set up the showpiece tie with a commanding 40-9 victory over a brave Scotland side at Twickenham on the same day Ireland scraped past Wales in Cardiff.
Clive Woodward's side once again showed what an exciting attacking force they are with their back three of Jason Robinson, Ben Cohen an Josh Lewsey grabbing all four of England's tries.
Again the boot of Jonny Wilkinson was faultless as he notched eighteen points before bowing out to allow Paul Grayson to collect a cap and grab a conversion to boot.
England battled their way to a 16-9 half-time lead against Scotland at Twickenham in a half note for an outbreak of yellow-card fever!
Referee Alan Lewis deemed it necessary to send Scotland's Andrew Mower, Simon Taylor and England's Jason Robinson to the sin-bin for similar offences involving taking opponents out of the game when they didn't have the ball.
The first incident, with the game barely ten minutes old saw Mower penalised for taking Mike Tindall out in mid-air in what looked like a dangerous challenge.
Taylor followed a remarkable two minutes later for tackling Lewsey before he could even get off the ground to try and claim a high ball.
Robinson followed them off the field shortly after the quarter hour for checking Kenny Logan as he attempted to race onto a Bryan Redpath grubber.
England's Josh Lewsey notched the only try of the half, his third try in two games, and with the boot of Wilkinson accounting for the conversion.
Scotland to their credit stepped up their game when they were stripped of the services of two of their back row forwards an were unlucky not to go into the break on even terms.
England continued to press in the second period but Scotland defended superbly, as they did for the vast majority of the game.
Cohen looked to have got on the score sheet when he got on the end of a Wilkinson cross kick but he was ruled to have knocked it on as he claimed it at the second attempt.
His disappointment will have lasted all of minute until, from the ensuing scrum England forced the mistake and the Northampton winger was there to pounce on the loose ball and claim the try.
Shortly after the packed Twickenham crowd were treated to two examples of England's attacking potential within a minute. First Lewsey showed blistering speed to chase down a clearance kick all the way to the Scotland 22, and then Robinson moments later danced his way over half-way before exploing with pace.
Wilkinson notched another penalty before Dan Luger came in to the game to replace Mike Tindall and Ben Kay departed to a huge ovation, giving way to Danny Grewcock. Tindall's departure saw a re-jig in England's backline with Robinson coming into outside centre and Luger taking his spot on the wing.
The move soon paid off as Robinson grabbed his first try of the day just after the hour showing a tradmark clean pair of heels to the Scotland defensive line before rounding Glen Metcalfe to claim the five-pointer.
More changes followed, with Woodward obviously casting one eye to next week's clash in Dublin, that saw Grayson, Trevor Woodman and Joe Worsley return to the international fray.
England rounded off the game with another smart move that Robinson finished off. The home side's excellent ball retention kept up the pressure in the Scotland half before RBS Man of the Match Matt Dawson sniped into the 22 before popping a pass to Robinson.
Roll on next weekend. There's a treat in store for all of us.
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park