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Brave Scottish Fall Just Short Against League Leaders

Brave Scottish Fall Just Short Against League Leaders

London Scottish delivered a performance full of character and determination as they pushed the runaway league leaders Newcastle all the way in a 12-9 defeat at a windy Kingston Park.

London Scottish delivered a performance full of character and determination as they pushed the runaway league leaders Newcastle all the way in a 12-9 defeat at a windy Kingston Park.

In a game of few try-scoring opportunities, kickers James Love and Joel Hodgson traded penalties throughout before the latter's fourth kick, midway through the second half, turned out to be the winning score.

MPU

With the Sky cameras in town, it was the perfect opportunity for Scottish to impress and they didn't disappoint. Despite facing incredibly windy conditions and a formidable opposition looking for their twelfth consecutive league win this season, they faced up to the challenge with impressive dedication and ended up pushing their opponents further than any other side has managed so far this season.

Love's second minute penalty gave Scottish the early advantage but Hodgson soon levelled matters with a penalty of his own. The young fly half served an early indication of his talents with ball in hand with a couple of scorching runs into Scottish territory but the visiting defence clearly had the bit between their teeth and were holding firm.

The strong winds were not helping either side and Love's next two penalty attempts, both from way out, fell victim to the strong breeze. In fact, the goalposts were visibly moving throughout, playing havoc with the minds of the kickers. To both Love and Hodgson's credit, they both adapted and started to factor the wind into their kicks. Love pushed Scottish back in front with a penalty, aiming the ball to the right of the posts and allowing the breeze to carry the ball back inside. But Hodgson again brought the Falcons level minutes after.

There were very few passages of running rugby but Scottish did provide one sparkling move in the first half as Andy Reay and Oli Grove combined to set Dave McCall free down the left wing before he was hauled down just ten metres short. Newcastle had a chance to score themselves right on the stroke of half-time with a 5 metre attacking scrum but colossal defence from the Scottish pack ensured that the half-time score would remain at 6-6.

With the home side perhaps a little rattled, Scottish began the second period superbly. Jim Thompson's clever kick over the top took them into opposition territory and, when Scottish stole the resulting lineout, Newcastle were pinged for offside and Love kicked the visitors back into the lead.

Again, however, Scottish couldn't maintain their lead. Hodgson was presented with a simple chance to level the match and from then on the home side were in the ascendancy. Despite Taiasina Tu'ifua being sent marching to the bin for ten minutes, it was the Falcons who scored next as Hodgson slotted a relatively straight-forward penalty. The penalty count was quickly stacking up against Scottish but, thankfully, Hodgson's next two attempts both missed, as the stand-off was denied by the blustery conditions.

Scottish tried to rally in the closing minutes but found themselves frustratingly stuck in their own 22. That didn't stop the defensive commitment from the players, however, and the players heroically put their bodies on the line to prevent a Newcastle try. Referee Matt Carley thought he had spotted a touch-down in the closing minutes and sent the decision to the Television Match Official, despite no Newcastle players appealing for the decision. The decision correctly came back as 'no try' but the home side were still piling on the pressure.

But Scottish defended their lines superbly and stole back possession with just seconds left on the clock. There was just about enough time for one last attack but, with play just inside the Newcastle half, Scottish coughed up the ball and the match was brought to an end, to the relief of the home side. 

There was much for Scottish to be proud of, however, and the outstanding defensive work will have pleased Director of Rugby Simon Amor. No side has pushed Newcastle that close all season and the team will head into 2013 with renewed confidence. The losing bonus point keeps Scottish in 9th place, with a four point lead over 10th placed Jersey.

London Scottish's next home match is against Bedford on Saturday 5th January. Beat the queues and book your tickets online now.

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