It ended with all the telltale signs. Crushed hopes that this time it would be different; no need to change the flight details to accommodate an extended stay and lots of patronising comments about the World Cup being all the lesser for not having the Scots at it. At the outset, an exit at the pool stage may have been no more than elements of the Tartan Army were expecting, but as ever their team took the scenic route that raised hopes and made the eventual failure all the more cruel. Here’s a look at how Scotland flirted with beating the Old Enemy and qualification for the last 8 of the World Cup before dashing a nation’s hopes.
Pre-match: The pre-match study is done. Scotland have the better national anthem and man to man the better hairstyles, but England are considered to be the more talented team. Despite rarely impressing in the competition thus far, the Sweet Chariot are priced up as the 1/7 favourites to win the match with Scotland 11/2. Before a ball is kicked or an eye gouged, the draw is a little considered 28/1 option.
10 mins: Scotland look sluggish and hugely unlikely to score a try – so pretty much in their usual form. England start in even worse form and the Scots hit the front thanks to a penalty from place-kicking robot, Chris Paterson. At this point there’s a slight rethink about how guaranteed England are to win this game, but only a small one. They’re 1/5 with Scotland now 10/3.
20 mins: Scotland stretch their lead to six with possibly the worst non-missed penalty of all time. It’s crosses the bar with so little room to spare, it’s sent to the Television Match Official who quickly confirms that it is successful and he will upload it to YouTube as soon as he can. England have a chance to peg them back, but the guy who looks like Jonny Wilkinson but couldn’t possibly be him because he’s been kicking so badly misses. England drift to 4/11 with Scotland in to 12/5
30 mins: The Jonny Wilkinson lookalike misses another kick at goal, but Scotland can’t capitalise and fail to extend the lead. 1/2 England, 6/4 Scotland.
Half Time: Wilkinson finally gets England on the board, but Scotland respond well before Martin Johnson gets a chance to give his half time bollocking. It’s 9-3 to the outsiders, but England are still favourites to prevail – just about. England are 8/11 and Scotland are 11/8.
50 mins: The first few minutes of the second half is mainly reset scrums interspersed with moments of rugby. Wilkinson tries a drop goal, but it’s about as accurate as your average Wikipedia entry. Scotland lead but England are still slight favourites – 5/4 and 5/6 respectively.
55 mins: Just when it looks like England are beginning to assert themselves and starting to take control of the match, RoboKick 2011 aka Chris Paterson lands another penalty to give Scotland a nine point lead. All of a sudden the possibility of Scotland actually winning becomes realistic and they take the favourites tag for the first time in the match. It’s 4/6 Scotland and 6/4 England.
60 mins: England respond instantly thanks to a vintage Jonny Wilkinson drop goal. England return to favouritism and now the option of the draw is coming into play. It’s 5/6 England, 5/4 Scotland and 11/2 for the not entirely outlandish possibility of a stalemate.
65 mins: Wilkinson lands another penalty to cut the gap to 3 points, but much to the surprise of anyone who’s watched rugby for the last couple of years, it’s Scotland who are looking the more likely to score a try. What initially looks like a horribly miscued cross field kick from Paterson turns out to be a moment of precise genius. Tom Croft scrambles back to avert the danger.
70 mins: Wilkinson has a chance to level the scores, but his attempt falls short. With 10 minutes to go, it’s certainly not pretty but it’s a lot fun – similar to a date with James Corden we’re imagining. England are now 17/10 to win the game, Scotland are favourites at Evens and the draw is 10/3.
75 mins: Scotland need a bonus point to progress to the quarter-finals, so there’s no kicking to the corners and pinning England back in their own half. They get themselves into some decent positions, but just can’t find the cutting edge to land a 5 pointer. We turn off out live betting at around this point with Scotland 4/6 to see it out with victory, England are 13/5 and the draw is still 10/3. Then Chris Ashton pops up to score the try to ensure Scottish sport lives up to the ‘going home early’ stereotype we know and love.