England finish on a high

2009-03-21 19:59

London - England survived an error-strewn second half to complete a 26-12 victory over Scotland on Saturday, reclaiming the Calcutta Cup and finishing their Six Nations campaign on a high.

First-half tries for Ugo Monye and Riki Flutey had England deservedly ahead 15-3 at the break but Scotland closed within six points before a Danny Care drop goal and a late Mathew Tait try made sure.

If Ireland beat Wales in Cardiff later on Saturday, England will finish second in the championship for the second successive season having been outside the top two for the previous four years.

The victory also continued England's home stranglehold on the Scots, who have not won at Twickenham since 1983, and piles the pressure on Scotland coach Frank Hadden after a frustrating campaign that produced a solitary win, over Italy.

Twickenham was again bathed in the warm sunshine that encouraged England's first-half romp against France last week but the fans had to be a little more patient this time.

Scotland started strongly, led with a Chris Paterson penalty and were denied a try for Thom Evans only by a superb last-ditch tackle by Monye after a high-speed chase down the left wing.

A lengthy break for treatment for a head injury to England scrumhalf Harry Ellis after 17 minutes worked in the home side's favour as they regrouped and looked far more positive, with Care taking over the scrumhalf duties.

Some patient passing and a clever delay by Toby Flood set up the opening score for Monye, his first in his sixth international, after 23 minutes.

Seven minutes later Flutey, who scored two against France last week, blasted through two tackles and kept enough of his little finger on the ball the get the nod from the video referee.

Flood, looking more confident with each game, finished the half off with a penalty for a 15-3 lead.

The third quarter was full of scrappy rugby, with handling errors undoing good attacking positions for both sides. Scotland came out of it the better, closing the gap marginally to 18-9 after an hour with two penalties.

Flood also landed one then missed a sitter as England, just as they did against France last week, lost their way and stopped doing the basics.

The Scots took full advantage, closing within six points when Paterson slotted another penalty to make it 16 out of 16 goalkicks in the championship for the fullback, who started Scotland's first three games on the bench.

England's nerves were eased with Care's drop goal seven minutes from the end and they finally gave the crowd a third try to cheer when, following an uncontested scrum, replacement Tait crossed in the left corner.