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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

English Edge Out Scotland

LONDON -- Four halves dominated two agonizingly close matches in the second round of the Five Nations championship.


In Edinburgh, flyhalf Gregor Townsend, 20, kicked a dropped goal in the final minute which appeared to give Scotland victory over favorites England. Townsend then charged down a riposte from his opposite number Rob Andrew only to see England win a 45-meter injury-time penalty which was calmly slotted by Jonathan Callard, allowing the visitors to escape with a desperately lucky 15-14 win.


Scotland were unrecognizable from the ragged bunch who lost to New Zealand and Wales. Much of the credit went to Townsend and recalled scrum-half Gary Armstrong, who nearly scored what could have been a decisive try.


In Dublin, Irish flyhalf Eric Elwood kicked five penalties but was upstaged by the Welsh stand-off Neil Jenkins who scored all his team's points in Wales' 17-15 victory.


The match was no great advertisement for rugby union but few sporting contests have been more exciting. The lead changed hands six times as England, who started in splendid style, first faltered then came close to panic.


After some flowing movements featuring slick interplay between forwards and backs did not breach the Scots' defense, England lost their way. Mistakes crept into their play and Scotland, scorers of the only try of the game through flanker Rob Wainwright, looked the likely winners for much of the game.


Callard, who kicked all England's points including the final penalty, was still in a state of shock well after the game ended. "I'm still shocked," he said. "When the drop goal went over I didn't think I'd get another chance."


Ireland, who lost to France in the opening round on Jan. 15, stuck to a pragmatic game plan at Lansdowne Road, relying almost solely on Elwood's all-round kicking skills.


The tactics came close to succeeding but, thankfully for those who look for more from rugby than penalty kicks, Wales' greater initiative paid off.


In the match's decisive move, center Mike Hall breached the defense, lock Phil Davies carried the ball on and when it was released to scrumhalf Rupert Moon, Jenkins shrewdly ran blind and slipped over the line for the only try of the match.


Jenkins, who was castigated in Wales after last year's fixture when he missed seven penalties, was understandably delighted after his team's second consecutive championship victory.


"The whole game was a total opposite to last year," he said. "I'm a changed person since then. I've grown up and I'm more mature."