Scotland Clinch Dramatic Draw

Scotland Clinch Dramatic Draw

Scotland secured an adrenaline-charged 15-15 draw against old rivals England at Murrayfield with Andy Robinson’s squad accumulating their first points of this year’s RBS 6 Nations championship. Dominant during the first half, Scotland kept England on the back-foot for large periods with a brand of enterprising rugby. But unfortunately the men in navy blue were unable to close the deal with a breakthrough try – much to the frustration of the 67, 114 capacity crowd at the home of Scottish Rugby. After the break, the match could have gone either way with England throwing everything at Scotland and the home side looking dangerous on the break. This was the first draw between the nations in an RBS 6 Nations match since 1989 and the first time a draw in the Calcutta Cup had taken place at Murrayfield since 1982. The contribution of Dan Parks – four penalties and a drop-goal – was enough to prevent defeat, but unfortunately Scotland were unable to conjure up a piece of try-scoring magic in a thrilling game of rugby. Both teams were aiming for the jugular, but neither could summon the necessary level of clinical precision in order to chalk up the victory. England controlled the opening couple of minutes with efficient work at the set-piece, but Scotland successfully weathered the storm with expertly-executed tackles coming in thick and fast. Then the home side were awarded with a penalty and an opportunity to get onto the scoreboard. Flanker Kelly Brown was impeded allowing Dan Parks an opportunity to open the scoring on seven minutes. His long range penalty drilled from distance and directed straight between the posts handed Scotland the perfect start and ensured the capacity Murrayfield crowd were in a buoyant mood.  But England responded with some dogged work at the breakdown with Jonny Wilkinson scoring a penalty on the 15-minute mark to level the scoreline. Nevertheless, the minor set-back didn’t make Scotland’s start crumple – in fact it triggered off a period of enterprising play from the home nation. Dark blue jerseys poured forward aiming to punch a sizeable hole in England’s defence. Scotland pegged England back with Parks’ searching cross-field kick finding Max Evans on the right wing, although the England-born Scotland internationalist was impeded. The referee then penalised England several times inside the visitors’ own 22 with Scotland threatening to score the opening try of the contest. Eventually, after several infringements, Parks, after consulting with captain Chris Cusiter,  pointed to the posts and the Glasgow stand-off scored a straightforward penalty to restore Scotland’s lead. With increased confidence and momentum, Scotland began to probe England’s defence with some well-worked attacking moves with Parks’ accurate boot adding an extra dimension to their strategy. England survived a few scares with Scotland’s accuracy levels sadly letting them down in key areas and the away side equalised for the second time on 32 minutes through another well-taken Wilkinson penalty. But just before the half-time break, Parks nailed a drop-goal after some spirited play from the pack deep into English territory to ensure Scotland went into the break with a three-point advantage. Almost immediately after the re-start, England were awarded a penalty 38 metres away from the posts and Wilkinson notched up his third successful attempt of the game. England replacement Toby Flood came on for Wilkinson moments later with the visitors’ playmaker requiring treatment after colliding with Evans. Flood then assumed England’s responsibilities with the kicking tee on 49 minutes and the Leicester man kept his nerve to steer his attempt between the posts. The pendulum had swung in favour of the away side with England playing with a renewed sense of vigour. But a quick Scotland break from Al Kellock led to a penalty inside England’s half and Parks drove the ball straight through to equalise. Scotland then had a great opportunity to take the lead again when Parks was handed with another penalty attempt. But this time his effort agonisingly rattled the post and England breathed a huge sigh of relief. Brown then had a great opportunity to score, but unfortunately the flanker clashed heads with England wing Ugo Monye and was forced to be taken off. Flood had an opportunity to put England back in the lead, but his long range penalty attempt fell short of the target. But England were in the ascendancy at this point in the match and another purposeful foray upfield resulted in a simple penalty which was duly converted by Flood. The excitement then reached a crescendo when Parks’ penalty attempt rebounded off the post, but this time Al Kellock caught the rebound and Scotland surged forward. A couple of spirited attempts couldn’t force the ball over the whitewash, but England were then penalised and Parks made no mistake from close range. A raft of substitutions then took place with both teams aiming to freshen up their exhausted line-ups – it had been an energy-sapping battle. Flood then hit an almost perfect penalty from the half-way line, but his effort didn’t have the legs and Scotland survived to secure the draw. Overall, it was a spirited performance from Scotland, but, all credit to England, who responded bravely in the second half in order to force the draw. ScotlandHugo Southwell, Sean Lamont, Nick De Luca, Graeme Morrison, Max Evans, Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter (captain); Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Jim Hamilton, Alastair Kellock, Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie. ReplacementsScott Lawson, Geoff Cross, Nathan Hines, Alan MacDonald, Rory Lawson, Phil Godman, Simon Danielli. EnglandDelon Armitage, Mark Cueto, Mathew Tait, Riki Flutey, Ugo Monye, Jonny Wilkinson, Danny Care; Tim Payne, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Louis Deacon, Steve Borthwick (captain), James Haskell, Joe Worsley, Nick EasterReplacementsSteve Thompson, David Wilson, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Moody, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Ben Foden. Officials Referee: Marius Jonker

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