Rugby Union / Five Nations Championship: Callard the hero with cool to boot: England break Scottish spirit at the death as a wily fly-half saves Wales

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Scotland. . .14

England. . . 15

ON WHATEVER side of the border you happen to be born, north or south of Hadrian's Wall, it was impossible not to feel intensely proud of this Scottish display or to admire England for their relentless pursuit of victory at a time when defeat was staring them in the face. Few sporting occasions can have ended so dramatically and very seldom in the history of the game has so much been owed by a team to one man.

It was therefore all the more remarkable that the man in this instance was the one whom many had considered to be the weakest link in England's mighty machine, the full-back Jon Callard, who in midweek had harboured grave doubts about playing because of a hamstring injury. He kicked all England's points but never will he make a more important contribution to any cause than his fifth and final penalty yesterday. Awarded for Scottish handling in the ruck, it was the last act of a hugely entertaining game and rarely has there been a more painful kick in the gut than the one Callard inflicted on the gallant Scots. He may have enriched rugby history but he left an entire nation in dismay and disbelief. The silence which greeted his match-winning goal was not born of discourtesy, merely shock.

A couple of minutes earlier and already into injury time, the same crowd had risen to acclaim a majestic drop goal kicked by Scotland's brightest young star Gregor Townsend which had put them one precious point ahead. It was, the Scots believed, a proper and fitting climax to what had been an inspired performance based on the solid, well-tested virtues of dogged hard-driving by the forwards, relentlessly accurate kicking from the half-backs and, from stern to stern, ferocious tackling.

They were qualities which had rocked England from the composure and almost disdainful confidence in the early stages when the Scots were denied even a sniff of the ball. In perfect conditions the bold initiative in playing the richly talented Kyran Bracken at scrum-half and the excitingly gifted Neil Back on the flank appeared to be right. Forwards and backs swept upfield in exhilarating unison and there were times in those opening minutes when it seemed that the Scots would be on the wrong end of yet another massacre. But as the game progressed and the plundering Scots began to insinuate their disruptive ways into the very heart and soul of the English game, and particularly in the stronghold of the line-out, England not only lost their composure and confidence but also their shape and control.

With Rob Wainwright, Andy Reed and Shade Munro strengthening their grip in the line-out and with England attempting to gild the lily by over- elaboration, the match swung dramatically Scotland's way midway through the first half. Admittedly, England contributed hugely to their own difficulties by the looseness of their play and their failure to execute the basic skills under pressure. They were exposed time and again by the power and accuracy of Townsend's kicking and by the courage of Gary Armstrong. The Scots had put their confidence in him and it was not misplaced. He dug, he delved, he probed and he was at all times the sharpest of daggers aimed at England's heart.

It will certainly be of concern to England that they were unable to regain control and return the game to their forwards. In the brief spell when their power was absolute Callard kicked the first of his penalties but the game turned on a single act of rashness. Bracken's pass to Rob Andrew inside the England 22 offered the fly-half a chance to open out. Had he done so England were clear and might have scored but the pass was spilt and the Scots were awarded an attacking scrum. From there they steadily built their momentum. Gavin Hastings ran back at England's defence from a long drop-out and Reed, and then Tony Stanger, cleared the way for Wainwright to score in the corner. The second half was but two minutes old when the elder Hastings extended the lead with a penalty.

Still, England continued to take the fight to their opponents and Callard gave them renewed heart and, once again, the lead, with two more penalties. As the game moved into the final quarter, however, there was little hint of the drama ahead. Gavin Hastings, though, had missed crucially with two kicks before giving Scotland the lead 11-9; but again Callard quickly cancelled it out.

The 80 minutes were up when Scotland won a line-out on England's right touchline, and Townsend, so cruelly denied a legitimate drop goal in Cardiff three weeks previously, put Scotland ahead. But then came the hour of reckoning, and with it the man.

Scotland: Try Wainwright; Penalties G Hastings 2; Drop Goal Townsend. England: Penalties Callard 5.

SCOTLAND: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); A Stanger (Hawick), S Hastings (Watsonians), D Wyllie (Stewart's Melville FP), K Logan (Stirling County); G Townsend (Gala), G Armstrong (Jed-Forest); A Sharp (Bristol), K Milne (Heriot's FP), P Burnell (London Scottish), S Munro (Glasgow High/Kelvinside), A Reed (Bath), P Walton (Northampton), G Weir (Melrose), R Wainwright (Edinburgh Academicals). Replacements: I Smith (Gloucester) for Wainwright, 67; I Jardine (Stirling County) for S Hastings, 72. Temporary replacement: B Redpath (Melrose) for Armstrong, 65-67.

ENGLAND: J Callard (Bath); T Underwood (Leicester), W Carling (Harlequins, capt), P de Glanville (Bath), R Underwood (Leicester); R Andrew (Wasps), K Bracken (Bristol); J Leonard, B Moore (both Harlequins), V Ubogu (Bath), M Bayfield (Northampton), M Johnson (Leicester), J Hall, B Clarke (both Bath), N Back (Leicester).

Referee: L McLachlan (N Zealand).

Carling stunned, page 7

----------------------------------------------------------------- The standings ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Wales 2 2 0 0 46 21 4 France 1 1 0 0 35 15 2 England 1 1 0 0 15 14 2 Ireland 2 0 0 2 30 52 0 Scotland 2 0 0 2 20 44 0 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Remaining fixtures: 19 February England v Ireland, Wales v France;5 March France v England, Ireland v Scotland; 19 March England v Wales, Scotland v France. -----------------------------------------------------------------