スコットランドまさかの快進撃

Scotland stun England at Murrayfield
たったこれっぽちの見出しでいろいろ想像するため、本文を結構下まで読んだ結果がこのタイトル。優勝候補フランスに加え、2節を終わり2連勝と首位を走るイングランドまでつぶしたんだから「まさかの快進撃」を入れてもいいと思った。

といっても、stun って言葉自体、「まさか」に相当する唖然とさせる、度肝を抜くっていう意味があるんだけどね。

stun Englad は、イングランドだけじゃないよ、フランスもだよ、という意味で取ってもいいかも(2月6日の記事参照)。

Just as they did against France, Scotland defied all the odds and confounded all their critics with a famous 18-12 victory over England at Murrayfield on Saturday. The stunning result - Scotland's first win over the auld enemy since 2000 - leaves England's Grand Slam dream in tatters and leaves the way open for a Scottish Six Nations title.

Scotland wing Chris Paterson kicked five penalties and fly-half Dan Parks dropped a goal to give Scotland their first Calcutta Cup win since that famous 19-13 success at the turn of the century.

Just as on that day, the wind and rain lashed Murrayfield as the Scots went about deconstructing England's well-laid plans, nullifying their opponent's attacking options and quashing foreign sorties with ruthless efficiency and valour.

Scotland have now beaten England and France in Edinburgh this season in a remarkable turnaround under the new coach Frank Hadden.

All that now stands between the Scots and the title is a bit of luck and two little trips - one to Dublin and one to Rome.

Scotland proved what many expected to be true. England can smash and bash and control and drive and squeeze all they like, but once forced into chasing a game, the attack is found seriously wanting. That there were no tries is more to England's discredit than to Scotland's.

Josh Lewsey provided plenty of sparks, as did Mark Cueto and Ben Cohen. But there was nothing, absolutely nothing, from the centres.

Charlie Hodgson had an average game - he wasn't best served by either Harry Ellis or Matt Dawson - but when he looked at what people did with some of his passes he must have wondered why he bothered anyway.

Too often Cohen and Cueto ploughed into a crowded midfield off their wings, and when the ball should have been going out to them, they were either on the floor or hanging around in the centres. Lewsey's best two moments out wide were supported by Hodgson and Danny Grewcock. A winger was needed both times.

But nothing should detract from Scotland’s performance, they forced the errors and it is their hour.

The Scots produced a heroic performance in defence to wrest away the forward control that England enjoyed so much in the first half and they took every opportunity going.

English ball was turned over some eight times in Scotland's 22 - another symptom of the malaise afflicting England's attack - but also testament to the numbers that Scotland brought to every breakdown. It was like watching wolves bringing down white-shirted bison, and opportunities to pick off the ball were seized on with vulpine efficiency.

In the second half, Scotland took advantage of England's apparent numbness after the break, and for the third quarter, enjoyed a 72 percent territorial advantage. That was the period in which the game was won - Scotland went from 6-3 down to 12-6 ahead.

Mike Blair and Dan Parks orchestrated all the loose possession with admirable calm. And even when pressured in their own 22, the whole back-line passed and kicked and cleared with the coolness, stubbornness and detachment of unionised civil servants ordering paperwork. Under the heaviest pressure, the whole team was unflappable all game and won because of that just as much as anything else.

The first two penalties of the match yielded scores, one for each side. Chris Paterson put Scotland in the lead after two minutes with Andy Sheridan penalised for not rolling away, Hodgson equalised after seven minutes when a Scottish player was penalised for going in on the side. That was the end of scoring for the first half, and England will rue that fact. There were several other opportunities for England to move the ball wide which were simply ignored.

Hodgson worked a scintillating exchange with Lewsey after a loose kick from Hugo Southwell and the Sale playmaker chipped ahead over Paterson before colliding with the Southwell. Referee Allan Lewis - who was excellent - decided it was not a penalty, which was a borderline call, but the replays did not suggest a definite penalty either.

All too frequently, England conceded penalties in the opposition's 22, which also undermined their forward dominance - they stole half of Scotland's line-out ball in the first half. For one, Julian White was admonished for use of a boot. For another, Danny Grewcock was sent to the bin for a senseless challenge on Alastair Kellock. It just wasn't tight or disciplined enough.

Hodgson missed another shot at goal after half an hour, but for fully five minutes after that - and after Lewis Moody had just been brought down short of the line - England had a series of scrums on Scotland's 5-metre line, most of which either collapsed or resulted in English penalties.

England coach Andy Robinson may question why there was no penalty try, but Cohen should have scored anyway from an Ellis pass at the final scrum. He looked for a tackler when he should have been looking at the ball and duly coughed up possession, and that was half-time.

The second half began as the first had done, with a kick apiece. England went first, Hodgson making it 3-6 after an offside, and Paterson equalising from a penalty for the same offence.

Blair and Parks used the boot to much better effect than Hodgson, and up to the hour mark the Scots gained territorial advantage because of it. Not only that, but the tacklers came out briefed to stop Cohen and Cueto in the centres at all costs.

They did so perfectly, and from England there was not a semblance of a Plan B. Paterson slotted a penalty on 49 minutes to make it 9-6, and Parks made it 12-6 with a drop goal on 58 minutes.

An England break down the right - Cueto the instigator - set up the passage of play which led to Hodgson's third penalty on 63 minutes, making it 12-9, and Lawrence Dallaglio and Simon Shaw were rolled on to increase the physicality of England's chargers.

The tension was tangible, but again, the only ones unable to cope appeared to be the English.

The replacements made not one iota of difference to the Scotland defenders, but Shaw's concession of a penalty with eight minutes remaining allowed Paterson to make it 15-9. Scottish fans visualised one hand on the Cup.

Lamont's eagerness to make a tackle took him beyond the offside line with four minutes remaining, and Mike Tindall - made captain after Martin Corry was called off - decided to allow Hodgson to go for posts. Hodgson scored, 15-12, but from the restart, the English pack let the ball bounce tamely into touch.

Urgency finally gripped England, but when they ran from their own 22, Noon was isolated and held onto the ball. Paterson used up about half the remaining time to make it 18-12, and then Hodgson put the restart straight into touch. Yet still England were within a score.

Scotland conceded two penalties in the final minute, an ideal opportunity for Dawson to kick for the corner, but again the calmness was found lacking - in Dawson of all people.

He elected to tap, run into a crowd of navy blue shirts, and get practically eaten alive. The ball squirted out to Joe Worsley, who was penalised for holding on. Paterson hoisted the penalty to touch thinking it was the end, but Lewis said the line-out would still be played. Scottish cheers gagged half-way out of throats.

England stole Scotland's line-out and the drama continued. The ball went wide to Lewsey. Breaths held all over the ground. But Lewsey, then Noon, could find now way through.

The ball squirted out again, and Paterson picked it up. All he had to do was kick it out, but he was swamped by white shirts before he could do so. The ruck lasted an eternity as Scots fans screamed and eyes widened. Then, finally, the ball popped out to Chris Cusiter, who thumped it into touch and started the party.

The Calcutta Cup is back up north, and as a by-the-way, both of Edinburgh's soccer teams made it to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup on Saturday as well. It will be quite a night in Edinburgh.



Man of the match: Scotland's skipper got the official vote, but we will compromise and award it jointly to Jason White and Allister Hogg, whose tackles and ceaseless support play were at the core of Scotland's victory.

Moment of the match: It must be Dan Parks's drop goal. As perfect a strike as you will see this season, and at 12-6, the victory suddenly became a likelihood.

Villain of the match: England lock Danny Grewcock - and this ain't his first appearance in this section. Not only was it a pointless and cowardly shoulder-charge on a player who had his back to Grewcock, it was also after the referee's whistle. When will he learn?

The scorers:

For Scotland:
Pens: Paterson 5
Drop: Parks

For England:
Pens: Hodgson 4

Yellow card(s): Grewcock (England) - playing the man without the ball, 22

The teams:

Scotland: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Chris Paterson, 13 Marcus Di Rollo (Simon Webster, 80), 12 Andrew Henderson, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Dan Parks (Gordon Ross, 65), 9 Mike Blair (Chris Cusiter, 65), 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Allister Hogg, 6 Jason White, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Scott MacLeod (Nathan Hines, 52), 3 Bruce Douglas (Craig Smith, 61), 2 Dougie Hall (Ross Ford, 59), 1 Gavin Kerr.
Unused Replacements: 19 Jon Petrie.

England: 15 Josh Lewsey, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Harry Ellis (Matt Dawson, 50-63, 74), 8 Martin Corry (Lawrence Dallaglio, 65), 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 Danny Grewcock (Simon Shaw, 69), 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Julian White, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Andy Sheridan (Perry Freshwater, 40-41, 74).
Unused replacements: 16 George Chuter, 21 Andy Goode, 22 Tom Voyce.


Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)
Touch judges: Stuart Dickinson (Australia), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Television match official: Christophe Berdos (France)

By Danny Stephens
by ysteio | 2006-02-27 00:25 | Six Nations