x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Parks salvages a draw for resilient Scotland

Johnnie Beattie insisted Scotland were disappointed to only draw with England, but was glad to finally get some Six Nations points on the board.

Johnnie Beattie insisted Scotland were disappointed to only draw with England, but was glad to finally get some Six Nations points on the board. It was the first draw in the fixture since 1989 as the boot dominated, Dan Parks scoring all of Scotland's points with Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood kicking England's. Scotland still look likely to finish bottom of the pile and Beattie admitted he was frustrated.

"Yeah, we're totally disappointed not to get the win," he said. "It was a bit of a scrappy game but we've got the first points of the competition so we'll take that. The support was amazing so we'd like to thank everyone, it was very special." On the performance, Beattie added: "I think we had some great positions but didn't quite finish them off. We've got a couple of points. "It was a slug fight but we got a couple of points."

Fears the match would descend into a kicking contest were well-founded if the first five minutes were anything to go by. So it was no surprise to see the first points arrive via the boot when the in-form Parks - earning his 50th cap - stroked a 40-metre penalty between the posts after England had infringed at the breakdown. England maintained the pressure and levelled in the 15th minute when Jim Hamilton conceded a needless penalty right in front of the posts, which Wilkinson knocked over.

Scotland came roaring back, Parks' crossfield kick almost putting Max Evans - starting on the wing for the first time - through in the corner. They pushed again and England were penalised twice, with Parks opting to take the three points on the second occasion 19 minutes in. England's attempts to come back again were being dogged by repeated handling errors. Frustration got the better of hooker Hartley just past the half hour when he punched opposite number Ross Ford. Referee Marius Jonker looked to have reversed an England penalty as a result but changed his mind again after consulting his touch judge and Wilkinson levelled from 40 metres to a chorus of boos.

Parks then missed a drop goal effort but the fly-half finally landed one from 40 metres in the 40th minute, with another mishit which this time flew over the posts. Hamilton gave away his second foolish penalty straight from the kick-off, Wilkinson punishing the lock with yet another equalising score. There was real concern for England when the fly-half went down awkwardly stopping an Evans break.Toby Flood came off the bench as Wilkinson received treatment for two minutes before leaving the field. The change seemed briefly to revitalise England, who Flood put ahead for the first time in the 50th minute when John Barclay was caught offside.

England made a second change when Ben Foden came on for the disappointing Armitage but, like Scotland, they conceded a cheap penalty through James Haskell. Parks bisected the posts to level before Nathan Hines replaced Hamilton. Another Scotland penalty immediately followed as the topsy-turvy war of attrition continued, but this time Parks hit the post. Chris Cusiter then produced a moment of opportunist brilliance to take the hosts within yards of a try.

The ball was recycled to Kelly Brown, who suffered a sickening clash of heads with Ugo Monye charging for the line. Both men stayed down, with Scotland team doctor James Robson rushing onto the field. Brown eventually got to his feet but was replaced by Alan MacDonald. But Monye looked in real trouble, the British & Irish Lions wing carried off on a stretcher in scenes reminiscent of Scotland star Thom Evans' spinal injury against Wales.

Ben Youngs came on for his first cap after a stoppage of around five minutes. England responded better to the break and Flood missed a penalty from almost halfway before Cusiter was replaced by Rory Lawson. He made no mistake soon after, forcing Scotland to introduce Scott Lawson for Ford and Simon Danielli for Hugo Southwell as England instantly conceded a penalty for offside 40 metres out. Parks hit the post again but this time Scotland won the ball and came within inches of a try before England infringed again and the fly-half levelled the scores.

Scotland gifted England a penalty just inside their own half with three minutes to go but Flood was inches short. The fly-half had a drop-goal effort to win the match in stoppage-time but saw his effort blocked. * PA