London Scottish 17
Nottingham Rugby 30
HUW CROSS @ Richmond Athletic Ground
THE penalty count proved costly to London Scottish as Nottingham ran out comfortable winners at the Richmond Athletic Ground on Friday night. Their prospects weren’t helped by a desperately poor start, which allowed the visitors to canter to a 17-0 lead before firing a shot themselves.
Looking to bounce back from a disappointing run of four defeats including a narrow loss at Doncaster last time out, Scottish will now have to pick themselves up before they head to Ampthil next Saturday knowing that if it weren’t for Yorkshire Carnegie’s desperate plight they’d be rooted to the bottom of the Rugby Championship.
After some early huffing and puffing from Scottish, it was the visitors who crossed the whitewash on ten minutes. With an advantage on the 22, fly-half Shane O’Leary bamboozled the Scottish defence when he tossed an inch perfect miss-pass for wing David Williams to run home before adding the extras.
It soon got worse for the home side who found it difficult to find a way through a rigid opposition defence. Shortly after Scottish wing Noah Heward was helped off the park with what seemed like concussion, O’Leary slotted a penalty to put the visitors 10-0 up.
Ten soon became 17 when a perfectly executed line-out move resulted in Nottingham’s Jack Spittle being put through the porous home defence to give Scottish a mountain to climb. But, to their credit, climbing is what they started to do.
With their first foray into the Nottingham 22, Scottish’s Rory Brand, on-loan from London Irish, scampered over after some strong work from the home side’s tight-five, making it 5-17 at the break
Despite a flicker of a fightback before the break, Scottish’s ill-discipline allowed Nottingham and O’Leary to get back on the front foot with a couple of three-pointers as the home side’s penalty count started to become a real issue.
Both sides then traded scores. First Scottish skipper Lewis Wynne drove over from close range with the help of his forwards, but Harry Sheppard missed the much-needed needed extras leaving Scottish still two scores adrift at 10-23 down.
If Wynne’s score was all about power, William’s second of the night was all about speed. Picking a hole in the middle park, the speedster’s arced run found the entire defensive line before dotting down under the posts to stretch the away team’s lead back out to 20 points once more.
Needing three scores, Scottish went on the front foot and after some concerted effort in Nottingham’s 22, it was hooker Billy Harding who bludgeoned his way over with ten left to play. Substitute fly-half Will Magie added the extras but it proved too-little-too-late for the Scots who only looked to play when they were too far adrift of their superior opponent.
London Scottish: L Holsey, B Harding, K Whyte, A Toolis, M Jurevicius, L Frost, L Wynne, M Bright, R Brand, H Sheppard, N Heward, D Barnes, L Anyanwu, R Stevenson, L Hibberd Subs: J Malcolm, R Eveleigh, P Cringle, , M Wakeling, M Eliet, E Hoadley, W Magie, M Gordon
Nottingham: A Sio, L Cole, O Heffernan, L Jones, S Cecil, T Uru, W Owen, J Poullet, M McConnell, S O’Leary, J Spittle, L Peters, W Millett, D Williams, S Scanlon Subs: B Brownlee, T Hill, K Garside, O Chessum, J Coghlan, A Dolly, B Foley, T Benjamin
Referee: Adam Leal
London Scottish: Tries: Brand, Wynne, Harding; Con: Magie
Nottingham: Tries: Williams 2, Spittle; Con: O’Leary 3; Pens: O’Leary 3.
Scoring sequence (L.Scottish first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-10; 0-15; 0-17; 5-17 (h-t) 5-20; 5-23; 10-23; 10-28; 10-30; 15-28 17-30
Man-of-the-Match: Nottingham fly-half Shane O’Leary was flawless off the tee and out of hand. He showed superb vision to set up the opening try and relieved pressure time and time again with his pinpoint kicking.
Talking point: Scottish’s slow start proved crucial. Going 17 points down they left themselves far too big a task against a well drilled Nottingham side.