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Rediff.com  » Sports » Wilkinson return inspires England win

Wilkinson return inspires England win

February 04, 2007 10:23 IST

Jonny Wilkinson made a spectacular return to the England team on Saturday with 27 points, including a try, to inspire the world champions to a morale-boosting 42-20 Six Nations victory over Scotland.

In his first appearance since the 2003 World Cup final and with just 42 minutes' club action under his belt in the last 12 weeks, Wilkinson made a mockery of those who had criticised his selection. The flyhalf landed a full house of five penalties, two conversions and a drop goal as well as a 59th-minute try wrongly awarded by the television referee before leaving the field to a standing ovation.

Wing Jason Robinson also had a memorable return two years after retiring from the international game with two tries and scrumhalf Harry Ellis, in his first appearance for a year, was electric as new coach Brian Ashton's ambitious selections were fully vindicated.

The pack provided a solid base, led by new skipper Phil Vickery on his 50th appearance and with deposed captain Martin Corry also finding a new gear as he too celebrated his half-century.

It was a remarkable turnaround for England, showing 11 changes from the team left in despair after defeat by South Africa last November, and gives them a real foundation to build on in the nine games remaining before they defend the World Cup later this year.

"We had to find a starting point and I think we found it today." Ashton told reporters.

BARELY NOTICED

Wilkinson ended the match with a lip reduced to bloody pulp but for a man who has endured a catalogue of serious damage since his drop goal won the World Cup in 2003, it was barely noticed.

"It's been a long time, it's just good back to get back on the field," he said. "It's what I live a lot of my life for, I just wanted to go out there and do a job."

He started work with a penalty and a drop goal as England, buoyed by Ashton's bold selections, began confidently.

Scotland, seeking their first win at Twickenham since 1983, replied with a Chris Paterson penalty then shocked Twickenham with a 25th-minute try as flanker Simon Taylor seized on a loose ball following a ragged England lineout.

England regained the lead with two more Wilkinson penalties and finished the half on a high by fashioning a superb try for Robinson.

The pack dragged the Scots wide left then the ball fizzed through the hands of the backs Andy Farrell, Mike Tindall and Wilkinson to reach the returning winger who threw a half-dummy then scuttled round to score in the corner.

Wilkinson was off-beam for the first time with the conversion but England turned round 17-10 ahead.

England, beaten 18-12 in Edinburgh last year, effectively settled the game after 55 minutes when Sean Lamont made a mess of trying to gather an Ellis kick and Robinson was on hand for an easy score.  

ELLIS KICK

Another Ellis kick opened the door for Wilkinson to dive in the right corner but TV pictures clearly showed his foot in touch and the decision to award the score was accurately described by Scotland coach Frank Hadden as "freakish".

If anyone was due a bit of luck, though, it was the bloodied number 10 and he celebrated in trade mark style by landing the conversion from the touchline.

Flanker Magnus Lund was left unmarked on the wing to add England's fourth try in the 73rd minute and Rob Dewey's late reply for the Scots could not spoil the home crowd's day.

A little over two months after being booed off after of their eighth defeat in nine games, England were roared into the night after regaining the Calcutta Cup and a great deal of their pride.

Teams:

England - 15-Olly Morgan; 14-Josh Lewsey, 13-Mike Tindall, 12-Andy Farrell, 11-Jason Robinson; 10-Jonny Wilkinson ( 21-Toby Flood 74), 9-Harry Ellis; 8-Martin Corry, 7-Magnus Lund, 6-Joe Worsley (19-Tom Rees 62 ), 4-Louis Deacon, 5-Danny Grewcock, 3-Phil Vickery (captain) (17-Julian White 77), 2-George Chuter (16-Lee Mears 73) 1-Perry Freshwater.

Scotland - 15-Hugo Southwell; 14-Sean Lamont, 13-Marcus Di Rollo, 12-Andrew Henderson (21-Rob Dewey 60), 11-Chris Paterson (captain); 10-Dan Parks (22-Rory Lamont 71), 9-Chris Cusiter (20-Rory Lawson 68); 8-David Callam, 7-Kelly Brown (19-Allister Hogg 63), 6-Simon Taylor, 5-Alastair Kellock, 18-Scott Murray 51), 4-James Hamilton (5-Alastair Kellock 62), 3-Euan Murray, 2-Dougie Hall (16-Ross Ford 68), 1-Gavin Kerr (17-Allan Jacobsen 55).

Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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