Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another stunner: Scotland win Calcutta Cup

February 25, 2006

Scotland just thumbed their noses at the naysayers and beat England at Murrayfield 18-12. The sides were level 3-3 at the half. There were no tries scored by either team.

Earlier in the day France ran away from Italy 37-12 in Paris after trailing 12-8 as the team headed to the dressing-room to a chorus of boos.

The England loss now throws the tournament wide open. If we were to look at the results and standings, this might look like the tightest and most-exciting finish in the Six Nations for many years. And perhaps it will be all of that yet. But so far watching these tests live proves differently. As the Irish moderator said of today's Calcutta Cup test, the co-favourites in the tournament -- England and France -- have so far only shown themselves to be miserable and mediocre.

Scotland get full credit for their unflappable commitment and courage. But they showed very little on attack. They can be forgiven that -- they rarely had the ball in attacking territory.

England meanwhile, were said to be over 15 pounds heavier per man in the scrum, but such was their dominance in the tight they looked more like 50 pounds heavier each. Not that it mattered, because English hooker Steve Thompson still can't throw into a lineout straight, and repeat offenders like Danny Grewcock keep getting docked in the sin-bin for thuggish braindead penalties. The English lock is a liability the team can no longer afford.

In addition to the immense size differential, England also dominated territory and possession in the first half to the tune of 75%, but they couldn't manage more than 3 points scored because their backline is utterly bereft of imagination and creativity. I've caned the Springboks backline over the years because of their one-dimensional predictability, but the Boks are light-years ahead of anything England has shown this year and this game in particular. Their backline highlight was winger Ben "hands of stone" Cohen butchering a sure 5-pointer at the goalline. That's the closest they came.


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