Planet Rugby

Misery shared at Murrayfield

13th March 2010 18:41

Share:

Ugo Monye Scotland England

Break: Ugo Monye sparks a rare English attack

The Calcutta Cup will remain south of the border after England and Scotland ground out a turgid 15-15 draw at Murrayfield on Saturday.

This was the 18th time in the fixture's history that honours have been shared, but the 127th edition of international sport's most ancient derby will not go down in the annals as anything more than a footnote.

No tries, zero tempo, little ambition and errors galore, what the game lacked in finesse it made up for in the faint drama of the lead changing hands at regular intervals as the kickers traded shots at goal.

With a series of injuries allowing the introduction of some new blood during the later stages of the game, it seemed for a fleeting moment that the laborious foreplay would lead to an explosive climax. Alas, it was not to be.

Both sides will say they should have won the game. Scotland's claim probably carrying more weight.

Nothing summons up Scottish spirits like a visit from the Sassenachs and the locals deserved more from a gutsy performance. Same old story, in other words.

Dan Parks, celebrating his 50th cap, punctuated a cagey start from both sides by opening the score via his boot after Dan Cole failed to roll away from a tackle.

England's response coughed and sputtered for a good ten minutes before Jim Hamilton came to their aid by flopping over the ball, and Jonny Wilkinson drew his side level with the resulting penalty.

Scotland's riposte was immediate and brutal, with Graeme Morrison knocking a hole in midfield. Parks then found Max Evans out on the left with a fine crossfield kick. The ensuing siege forced two penalties out of England, the second of which Parks slotted between the uprights.

Scottish tails were now well and truly up and they began to stitch width to their increasingly regular attacks.

But it was England who got the next points, with Wilkinson slotting a penalty after the locals strayed offside in defence - three points that saw the England legend becoming the leading points-scorer in the Championship's history, knocking Ronan O'Gara from his lofty perch.

The setback didn't cause Scottish heads to drop and they carried on attacking with endeavour if not success. With England looking comfortable in defence, Parks opted for a change of tack and drew the curtain down on a forgettable half of rugby by dropping a goal.

Two unchanged sides came out for the second half, and England won a penalty directly from the restart after Hamilton took a wild swing at the ball lying at Danny Care's feet at the base of a ruck. Again, Wilkinson drew his side level off the tee.

It was to be Wilkinson's last contribution to proceedings. Toby Flood joined the fray after England's number ten was forced to leave the field after taking a heavy knock in an attempted tackle on Evans.

And thus Martin Johnson's critics had the chance to test out their theory about the Leicester pivot.

So, did he manage to oil the wheels of England's wonky chariot?

Well, on this evidence, the jury remains out - but his arrival did herald a few passages of inventive attack.

The pressure took its toll on the Scots and they soon conceded a penalty in defence, and the new arrival duly pocketed the points to put England ahead for the first time of the match.

But England's revival was short-lived. Parks levelled the scores after James Haskell failed to release man and ball in the tackle.

Another error from England gave the half-tonner a chance to win back the lead, but his shot at goal rebounded off the post.

The Scots managed to regain possession and had England defending their line when a sickening clash of heads killed the raid and removed both Kelly Brown and Ugo Monye from proceedings.

The game restarted after a lengthy break with England debutant Ben Youngs one of the new faces on the field.

It was either the change of personnel or the fear of the large man waiting in the changing room or a combination of both, but England began to up the gears as the game moved into the last quarter.

Flood missed a shot at goal before sending a second effort into the corner for an attacking line-out. The daring option might not seem like much, but in a match devoid of highlights, it felt as if Indiana Jones has swung in off the roof.

England were unable to add the cherry of a try to the top of their adventurous gambit, but Flood did managed to win back the lead after Scotland killed the raid illegal.

Again, England's reign didn't last too long.

Another shot at goal from Parks came off the post. This time his mates decided to give chase and they almost got across the line after collecting the loose ball. England managed to regroup, but not without conceding another penalty that Parks turned into the points that sealed the final score.

To their credit, both sides upped the tempo in the remaining minutes, but more in the manner of headless chickens than professional sportsmen.

Flood was handed a chance to win it at the death after Scotland replacement Scott Lawson was deemed to have held an Englishman back, but the fly-half's central, 48-yard shot at the sticks didn't have the legs. A fitting epitaph for a game that limped along for the entire duration of its short and painful life.

Man of the match: The athletic enthusiasm of Scotland's three buzzing Bs - Beattie, Barclay, Brown - rubbed off on those around them, with the collective spirit probably eclipsing any individual contributions. Having said that, Hugo Southwell had one of his best games in a Scotland jersey and Max Evans and Chris Cusiter were constant thorns in England's side. But it was straight-running, hard-tackling Graeme Morrison that caused the visitors the most problems.

Moment of the match: It was a dismal spectacle, with the highlight probably being the sight of referee Marius Jonker conducting a scrummaging clinic after a full five minutes of collapsing set-pieces. Nothing here will live long in the memory, so we'll nominate the moment when the Nimrod flew low over the stadium just before kick off. It really was that bad.

Villain of the match: The red mist descended all over Dylan Hartley after he got into shirt-pulling contest with Ross Ford. Both can count themselves lucky that his haymaker didn't connect.

The scorers:

For Scotland:
Drop: Parks

For England:
Pens: Wilkinson 3, Flood 2

The teams:

Scotland: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Max Evans, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 John Barclay, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Al Kellock, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Geoff Cross, 18 Nathan Hines, 19 Alan MacDonald, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Phil Godman, 22 Simon Danielli.

England: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Joe Worsley, 6 James Haskell, 5 Steve Borthwick, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Steve Thompson, 17 David Wilson, 18 Courtney Lawes, 19 Lewis Moody, 20 Ben Youngs, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Ben Foden.

Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Television match official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)
Assessor: Patrick Robin (France)

By Andy Jackson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 37 - 23 Cardiff BluesLeinster vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411