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Late Ashton try books England spot

England booked a Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with France after Chris Ashton's try sealed a dramatic late 16-12 victory over Scotland at Eden Park.

But while England scraped through, Scotland were left contemplating elimination in the group stages of the World Cup for the first time ever. Scotland need Georgia to beat Argentina in Palmerston North on Sunday - and deny the Pumas any bonus points - if they are to snatch a place in the last eight.

Scotland had been inspired by a man-of-the-match performance from Dan Parks, who replaced the injured Ruaridh Jackson after just four minutes, and led 12-9 with three minutes remaining when Ashton raced onto Toby Flood's floated pass and dived over in the corner.

Parks landed a penalty and drop-goal and Chris Paterson struck two successful kicks from out wide - but England, despite being rattled and second best for long periods, hung in there.

Scarlets centre Sean Lamont spilled the ball under pressure but Scotland won the subsequent scrum penalty after Dan Cole buckled under Allan Jacobsen. Paterson landed the kick from the left touchline before Mike Blair made a swift break and England conceded another penalty at the breakdown, which Parks landed with a scuffed kick that just crept over the bar.

England gained a foothold when Courtney Lawes pounced quickly to win a penalty at the breakdown but England failed to capitalise as Jonny Wilkinson missed three penalties in six minutes.

Parks saw a drop-goal attempt fall short before Wilkinson finally succeeded in nudging England onto the scoreboard with his fourth shot at goal. But England's set-piece problems continued and Matt Stevens was penalised for a second time, as Scotland won a clean lineout ball and Parks landed the drop-goal to put his side 9-3 up at the interval.

England's scrum was penalised again and Paterson landed the penalty to move Scotland 12-3 ahead. Wilkinson reduced the arrears with a right-footed drop goal but then ignored runners out wide to attempt another that was charged down.

Tom Croft stole a Scotland lineout and when Al Kellock dragged the maul down Wilkinson stepped up again and landed the penalty to bring his side back within three. Flood then took charge at fly-half and one of his first acts was to kick a penalty to touch rather than go for the posts.

England drove the lineout forward, Manu Tuilagi tried to punch a hole in the Scotland defence and recycled the ball quickly and Flood floated the pass wide. Ashton turned on the afterburners and dived over in the corner to clinch the victory.


From Belfast Telegraph