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Draw dents England's expectations
Scotland hold rivals 15-15 as Ireland stay on course with easy Six Nations beating of Wales.
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2010 20:45 GMT
Wilkinson awaits the chance to force a breakthrough in a tight game at Murrayfield [AFP]

Scotland and England fought out their first draw for 21 years when a try-less, error-strewn Six Nations game ended 15-15 at Murrayfield, severely denting the title hopes of the visitors.

Earlier, Ireland marked Brian O'Driscoll's 100th cap for his country with a convincing 27-12 victory against Wales at Croke Park on Saturday.

Victory saw champions Ireland keep alive their hopes of a successful title defence and stay on course for a Triple Crown when they play Scotland at home in next week's final round of fixtures.

Wales's third defeat in four matches left them in danger of finishing bottom of the table.

In Edinburgh, Dan Parks kicked four penalties and a drop goal while three penalties from Jonny Wilkinson and two from Toby Flood kept England in it, though Flood just missed a long-range effort to win the game two minutes from time and had a drop-goal attempt charged down in the last seconds.

Scotland, beaten by France, Wales and Italy and seemingly on course for the wooden spoon, produced a spirited performance on Saturday to please their coach, former England boss Andy Robinson.

Short of ideas

England, needing a win to have a realistic chance of their first title since 2003 – the year they won the World Cup – once again looked desperately shorn of ideas and invention and never threatened a try.

"It's a weird one, the guys are disappointed," England manager Martin Johnson said after a result which means England will not be able to win the championship if France beat Italy on Sunday – as they almost certainly will.

"We had chances to win the game and we didn't need to give away  silly penalties in the second half when they didn't look like scoring."

France, who host Italy on Sunday, top the standings on six points and are heavily favoured to take the title with a grand slam.

Ireland, who beat Wales 27-12 earlier, are on six from four games.

England have five, Italy and Wales two points and Scotland one.

The English now travel to Paris for their final game of the competition next Saturday against France while Scotland play Ireland in Dublin.

Ireland scored three tries, two from left wing Keith Earls and one from scrum-half Tomas O'Leary, while all Wales had to show for their efforts were four Stephen Jones penalties.

Slapping

The match turned in the 25th minute when Wales full-back Lee Byrne was sin-binned for deliberately slapping the ball away from O'Leary, when he was on his knees and thus not entitled to play it.

Soon afterwards, Ireland capitalised on their man advantage to  score their first two tries.

"When they went a man down, we upped the tempo, played a lot of rugby and they struggled to live with us," O'Driscoll said.

"We just played a smart game. We didn't play too much rugby but when the opportunity arose, we threw it around."

Source:
Agencies
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