Tag: Mark Bennett

Six Nations: England 25-13 Scotland

England set up a climatic final day to the 2015 Six Nations but only after toiling to a 25-13 victory over Scotland.

Two weeks after succumbing to champions Ireland, Stuart Lancaster’s men were forced to draw on their reserves of character to see off opponents searching for a maiden win of the Championship and a first triumph at Twickenham for 32 years.

Only George Ford’s 44th-minute try separated the rivals for most of a second half controlled by England but also containing moments of high anxiety as Scotland, sensing a special result was theirs for the taking, ran with intent and ingenuity.

They deservedly led 13-10 at half-time after Mark Bennett crossed to help overhaul Jonathan Joseph’s early try, the outside centres exchanging scores, but they lacked the firepower to finish the job.

The 12-point win against the Six Nations’ bottom team, combined with Wales’ 23-16 victory over previously unbeaten Ireland earlier in the day, has created a three-way shoot-out for the title.

England, Wales and Ireland can each be crowned champions next Saturday, but the 2015 World Cup hosts know they squandered a glorious chance to place themselves in the driving seat.

As many as five try-scoring opportunities were left on the Twickenham turf, most of them in a dominant opening quarter, and it took Jack Nowell’s try with five minutes left to place them at the summit of the table with one round remaining.

France visit London in the final match of Saturday’s triple-header and with the outcome of the title likely to be decided by points difference, England’s four-point advantage over Ireland is a poor return from an afternoon that began with such promise.

The dismal starts that had blighted their Six Nations appeared to be a distant memory as Ben Youngs and Ford combined to set Luther Burrell free, and although the inside centre butchered the chance, the Scots’ line soon cracked.

Hard yards from Billy Vunipola and James Haskell softened up the visitors and Joseph needed no second invitation to jink over from 10 yards out after being given a sniff of the whitewash by Youngs’ distribution.

Scotland were being over-run, with a one-booted Mike Brown unable to outstrip Stuart Hogg in a race to the line, obviously impeded by having to run with only a sock on his left foot.

Finn Russell was flattened by Courtney Lawes behind his own line and Nowell dashed into space as the pressure continued, but chances were being wasted at a worrying rate.

Any thoughts of a cricket score quickly evaporated as Scotland ran in a try launched from a line-out but born out of the vision of Greig Laidlaw, whose rapid miss pass enabled Mark Bennett to step inside and dive over.

Ford and Laidlaw exchanged penalties, the Scots’ three points coming after they were held up just short of the line, before Anthony Watson correctly had a try disallowed following a forward pass from Ford to Burrell.

England invited pressure on themselves when Joe Marler was penalised at the scrum for a second time and the visitors were now the dominant force, running the ball with intent.

Wide open space greeted revitalised Scotland, who were denied a try when wing Tommy Seymour was brought down by Brown before failing to create a clear overlap, but they at least finished the passage of play with a Laidlaw penalty.

England started the second half with purpose and were rewarded when Ford dummied his way over from close range, but it had been the hard running of wing Nowell that made the real yards.

Holes continued to appear in the blue wall as England wrestled back control, Ford underlining their growing authority with a penalty. England’s ability to self-destruct remained intact, however, as substitute hooker Tom Youngs flung out a wild pass having charged through a gap.

It became Brown’s turn to see a try chalked off for a forward pass – Haskell’s ball was at least a metre in the wrong direction – but the reward for their late superiority came in the 75th minute when Nowell darted over in the left corner.

The try had a hint of good fortune about it as a penalty by Ford struck the left upright and fell for England to launch an attack that has placed them at the summit of the table.

Read more at ESPN

Six Nations: Scotland 19-22 Italy

Scotland slipped to a third successive Six Nations defeat as they fell to a battling Italian side at Murrayfield.

Mark Bennett ran in his first international try for the Scots before Joshua Furno and Giovambattista Venditti replied for Italy.

Greig Laidlaw’s 14 points with the boot kept them in front until the final minute.

But Vern Cotter’s side were undone by a last-gasp penalty try, which was converted by Tommaso Allan.

The result leaves Scotland bottom of the Six Nations table as the only team without a victory to their name while Italy secure their first championship win since 2013.

Scotland’s performances in defeats by France and Wales had offered some signs of encouragement, but there will be no crumbs of comfort in losing to Italy, who celebrate a first win in Edinburgh since 2007.

With matches against title contenders England and Ireland to come, the Scots are staring at the very real prospect of a Six Nations whitewash.

They started the match in positive fashion. Captain Laidlaw kicked Scotland in front with barely a minute on the clock after an Italian infringement, and it was immediately obvious the Scots were aiming to play a more expansive game than in those opening two matches.

The Scots’ ambition was helped by some sloppy Italian play, fly-half Kelly Haimona’s wayward pass an open invitation for Mark Bennett to intercept and coast under the posts unchallenged.

The visitors were not about to crumble though. A driving maul from a line-out on the Scotland 22 carried the Italians over the try line, with lock Furno the man grounding.

Two Laidlaw penalties either side of Haimona’s three-pointer extended Scotland’s lead to 16-8, but they conceded just before half-time through a slice of bad fortune.

Haimona’s penalty attempt came back off the post and the ball bounced favourably to wing Venditti, who managed to force the ball down through a ruck of bodies to make it 16-15 at the break.

Allan, on for Haimona, spurned a good chance to put Italy in front for the first time on 54 minutes, sending a fairly straightforward penalty attempt wide of the posts.

For the second match running the home side had a try ruled out, though in this instance there was no controversy; Sean Lamont’s off-load to Stuart Hogg a blatant forward pass.

Laidlaw nudged Cotter’s men four points ahead with a routine penalty 13 minutes from time, but the Italians would not lie down.

They forced a succession of line-outs and scrums deep in Scottish territory, and with the home defence desperately trying to halt a rolling maul, referee George Clancy deemed they were doing so illegally and awarded a match-winning penalty try, which was converted by Allan to seal a desperately disappointing day for the Scots.

Read more at BBC Sport