As the first 2 parts have stated, England have a pack with runners, a midfield that can crash and whippets out wide. Scotland have picked a team with a need and runners of their own. They have abrasion and risk in equal measure in their selections.
Scotsmen think they can win this. Englishmen have an expectation to win. Alex Ferguson himself thinks Scotland have a chance. We will all be watching and wondering.
So as it is, frankly, impossible to tell if this game will be close, a rout or an 8 point victory I have come up with how the game would pan out if it was played in my head. Yeah. That dark, scary place…
Anthems: Scotland, backed by boisterous support and a few extra Kiwis, roar into the ‘Flower’ and shake Eden Park to its very foundations. ‘God Save the Queen’, in comparison, is sung at an adequate pace and with a noise level acceptable to Johnno’s ears. Robinson doesn’t take part.
Kick-Off: Wilkinson lofts the ball (a regulation ball, that we are assured hasn’t been tampered with) into the air. Scotland claim it well enough, but run through 6 phases without making much headway. Jackson kicks it out and some mumblings start already that this will be a game of bosch and nudge.
Minute 4: Disaster strikes. 40m out Lamont tears out of the line to try and annihilate Wilkinson –which he does –but the OBE flicks a cute pass to Ashton who runs it in and delivers a cripplingly irritating Swan Dive. Wilkinson nails the kick.
Minute 5: Paterson chips in with a relatively simple kick to keep us close.
Minute 22: Strokosch delivers a monstrous hit on James Haskell, causing a flare up. Moody steps in to cool things down, but not before Thompson attempts to kiss as many Scots as possible.
Minute 29: Croft returns the favour chasing a kick and smashing Max Evans, who spills it forward into touch. The resulting scrum, much like the rest of the game is more even than many commentators would have expected and Murray gives Matt Stevens a hard time.
Minute 35: Jackson shakes off some tacklers to get closer to the line –“was that an offside, Ref?”- and feeds an Evans who hobbles through a gap as Tuilagi shoots in with another big hit. Paterson creeps into the pocket and slots a drop goal few had expected him to take on. 7-6.
Half-Time: More handbags ensue and the rain starts tumbling down. The ref blows the whistle and both captains get into the sheds early, hoping to get their teams to calm down. The ITV coverage is as grim as before, but the analysis is lightened up by images of England’s dressing room where they are clearly getting an earful from Johnno. Wilkinson, in particular, seems to be getting it tight about his kicking out of hand. Flood is trying not to look up, and a face peels round the toilet door just out of view. Surely England wouldn’t sneak suspended Dave Alred into the dressing room…
Kick-Off: The game restarts and it is as heated as before. Mauls break out from the English and Croft looks more and more wasted as he and Lawes take up wide positions, but aren’t hit.
Minute 44: England give away another penalty, proving that under pressure they can commit atrocious amounts of infringements. The crowd sense it too. As it is further out Jackson takes it on confidently. He drills it through just as cameras catch Johnson slamming his fists on the desk and making for the door.
Minute 60: Scotland are tackling like dervishes, but they are also running into brick walls in attack. They are often stringing 8 phases together. Eventually, though, the referee has had enough and yellow cards Deacon for persistent team offences.
Minute 73: Deacon is back on, but now Youngs has been carded for the same reason. From a ruck Cusiter, on for Blair, chips over the top 22m out and Evans races through to touch down. 11-7 to Scotland and then Jackson makes the kick. 13-7! There is little time to catch breathe. Despite this Robinson fights the urge to chuck on the subs.
Minute 75: The defence is really firing at this point. To a man Scotland are pushing forward and hitting anything in white. Barclay looks close to vomiting, but he won’t stop screaming in the line. Flood and Foden are moaning as they can’t get any ball, particularly in space. Hartley is on for Thompson but he is struggling to keep his cool as Ansbro cuts out a menacing, drifting run from Armitage. It may stay like this…
Minute 78: Rennie is on for Strokosch who couldn’t run anymore and the Edinburgh man charges down a kick from Flood. Vernon chases after it and catches Ashton with the ball 10m from his own line. The England team look flustered and they resort for pick and goes.
Minute 80: The Ball is cleared 15m out from the line and Scotland have one last chance. They recycle the ball, and Mike Blair is forced to step into contact. A few phases lead to forwards rumbling and the ball ends up in Lamont’s hands at first receiver but he retains it. Jackson is behind the ruck…I feel sick….Did he slot that?!!
After Match analysis: Neither side is available for comment. There is confusing everywhere. Even Tindall’s harem of paparazzi are at a loss. Robinson is still wandering around the pitch somewhere. This should make things interesting, huh? Did you see that…?!