Paterson and his mighty boot strike a blow for the small guy

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The Independent Online

Before kick-off at Murrayfield last night they wheeled out the kilt-wearing, torch-bearing, pike-wielding extras from that Mel Gibson film, the name of which has become the standard Caledonian cliché for such occasions as this. The match programme carried an advert for a Scottish Sunday newspaper offering a Battle of Bannockburn CD, "telling the story of the most monumental battle between England and Scotland - and Scotland's greatest triumph." By the final whistle, none of the natives present were thinking of 1314 or other past glories. They had the 18-12 overture of 2006 to savour.

And what an overture it was - every bit as memorable as the Murrayfield classics of 1990 and 2000. And it was painstakingly crafted. Or grafted, more like.

The last time England were up this way, the Scottish resistance went up in smoke. Only the pre-match fireworks and the massed ranks of the pipe bands succeeded in getting up the noses of Sir Clive Woodward and his men. Last night it was different. Very different.

When the tribal drummers and fearsomely dressed clansmen retreated to their dressing-room, the 15 players in blue picked up the theme. So did the five reinforcements. It was as if they had picked up every chunk of the Emperor Hadrian's defensive wall and repositioned it in front of the home line. "An absolutely unbelievable defensive effort," Frank Hadden called it.

It was that. In the equally stunning victory against the French three weeks ago it was the nephew of the Scotland coach's sister-in-law who was the chief weapon. This time Sean Lamont got not so much as a sniff of the line. The bottle-blond bombshell from Blairgowrie was too busy bottling up the opposition.

Chris Paterson did his bit, too, in keeping the English cork in place. Scotland's right wing might not be blessed with the same profile as the 6ft 2in, 16st Lamont, in physical stature or in hairstyle. He has a knack of making his presence felt, though. Either side of half-time last night, Paterson produced two vital covering tackles, dragging down first Lewis Moody, then Josh Lewsey from behind. Upon such nuts and bolts work, the 27-year-old Borderer has built his highly proficient game.

Then there is that right boot - the trusty weapon responsible for putting England to the sword. Brows were no doubt furrowed south of the border when Ian McGeechan described Paterson as "Scotland's Jonny Wilkinson." They were simply creased in despair when the wing, a picture of composure, fired over the fifth of his five penalties.

For good measure, it was Paterson who brought England's last, despairing attack to an end, snaffling possession from Matt Dawson and feeding Chris Cusiter for the kick into touch that drew the final blast of Alan Lewis's whistle. It also drew praise from Scotland's coach.

"Chris's kicking is one of the things that has given me confidence," Hadden said, after ushering his players on a lap of honour. "I can remember a day when people would line up a kick at goal and you wondered what would happen next. When Chris lines up his kicks I feel inclined to get on the phone to the Chinese takeway." And order a No 14, presumably.

In his seven seasons on the international menu, Paterson has popped up at 10 and 15, too, of course. The most impressive statistic from his 62 caps is the running tally of 445 points he has popped over - 222 short of Gavin Hastings' national record. He also has a second win against the auld enemy to his name, as a veteran of the 19-13 overture of 2000. Not that the man from Galashiels was in any danger of becoming intoxicated by it all. Paterson is a strict teetotaller.

Still, the rest of Caledonia was doubtless raising a toast to him last night, and to the man at the helm of the revolution. Just a month ago, Hadden's only experience of the Six Nations' Championship was in the company of the boys from his rugby club - "The bus to Stranraer, the ferry, the train down to Dublin." The trouble is his fellow countrymen will now be expecting him to walk across the Irish Sea to Lansdowne Road the Saturday after next.

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