Rugby League: Carling the disbeliever: Andrew Baker gathers opinion from the leading men of Murrayfield

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The Independent Online
JON CALLARD, his voice quivering with emotion, described the last-gasp penalty that sealed England's 15-14 victory as 'a dream come true'. 'I'm still shocked,' the Bath full-back admitted. 'When the drop goal went over I didn't think I'd get another chance. When we were awarded that kick, Will Carling said: 'It's easy, get on with it'. I put everything out of my mind and just concentrated on simple technique and giving it an old-fashioned hoof.

'I didn't know it was going to be the last kick of the match, and the ball seemed to spend an age in the air before it went over - 'Come down, come down]' It was such a relief when the referee put his arm up to signal the end of the game.'

Callard landed all 15 England points with his five penalties - and his captain, Will Carling, was the first to pay tribute. 'I looked at Jonathan, and I've never seen anyone look so pale as he was about to take that kick,' Carling said. 'I've never been so worried in my life. I'm happy now - and relieved. I'll be buying Jon Callard beer for the rest of my life.' The captain could hardly believe the victory. 'I'm still shaking after all this. I think it was an amazing finish.'

Carling knew that Callard had broken the hearts of a 49,000 crowd which had scented a completely unexpected victory, but said: 'I think they restored their pride. They've made everyone forget about the problems they've had in their last two games.'

The England manager Geoff Cooke admitted the victory had been fortunate. 'We would not expect to win if we ever play that badly again,' he said. The coach Dick Best agreed: 'A few backsides will be kicked. There is a lot of scope for improvement in the forwards. We made clumsy handling mistakes that are unforgiveable. We created opportunities but frittered them away.'

Scrum-half Kyran Bracken acknowledged that he has had better days. 'I was quite disappointed with myself,' he said. 'My job was to get the ball away and I found that difficult today - I was getting hounded by the Scottish pack. Hopefully I can do that better in games to come.' Tony Underwood emphasised that the side were aware of their shortcomings. 'I think it has sunk in to the players that we are capable of playing a lot better,' he said. 'That we didn't play as well as we did in the last 10 minutes throughout the 80 is very disappointing for us.'

The Scotland captain Gavin Hastings, who succeeded with only two of his seven penalty attempts, was devastated by the defeat. 'Christ, it's hard to bear, I can tell you,' he groaned. 'It's the most disappointing moment I've ever had in rugby.' His team suffered a heavy toll of injuries: Rob Wainwright fractured a cheek bone, Doddie Weir had a broken nose, comeback man Gary Armstrong went off temporarily with a badly-gashed ear, and Scott Hastings limped off with a swollen thigh. But Hastings was full of praise for their spirit. 'Our lads couldn't have played with any more pride and passion,' he said, close to tears.

(Photograph and table omitted)

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