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Esher Match Preview: "So the fun begins…"

Esher Match Preview: "So the fun begins…"

The end of season play offs finally start this coming weekend, when London Scottish make their third visit of the season to our close rivals Esher. At the tail end of the regular season Esher won their three final matches on the bounce and the match on Saturday sets up a very tough encounter. Both sides will be determined to get off to a flyer and Scottish will be determined to gain revenge for their recent loss at Molesey Road.

The end of season play offs finally start this coming weekend, when London Scottish make their third visit of the season to our close rivals Esher. At the tail end of the regular season Esher won their three final matches on the bounce and the match on Saturday sets up a very tough encounter. Both sides will be determined to get off to a flyer and Scottish will be determined to gain revenge for their recent loss at Molesey Road.

So the fun begins on Saturday when Scottish kick off their first playoff pool match with a tasty and challenging away fixture against Esher. Ahead of this game Scottish go into the pool matches with six bonus points carried forward from the regular season and our opponents in the first match having four points carried forward. During the regular season it was well documented that Esher struggled for the majority of the season and it was only in the final few league matches that the Esher club was able to gain any form of consistency. This late recovery in form can in part be put down to the recovery of a number of key players returning from long term injury, but this is only part of the story. Although for the whole of the regular season Esher occupied the bottom position in the league table, this was by many learned observers a false position and many predicted that the team would progress as the season wore on. A fact borne out by the final league results.

MPU

Esher turned in a remarkable February in terms of results with finishing the month without a loss to their name. They opened the month with their 24 -14 home victory over Scottish and then backed this up with an even more impressive win away at Leeds Carnegie, scoring their winning points with the last play of the game. Finally, they completed their regular season with a resounding home win against our fellow play off rivals Plymouth Albion 41 – 17. For Scottish it has been a season of frustration with the club picking up the largest number of losing bonus points in the Championship, which clearly demonstrates how close Scottish came to matching their opposite numbers across the whole of the regular season. These frustrations were finally blown away in our final regular league match, when the team completely dominated the Rotherham Titans throughout the match. In fact this was only one of a handful of league matches that the Titans had failed score a single point in the Rotherham teams history of league rugby.

For Scottish the play offs will allow them to play their strongest starting line up with their long term injured players recovering in time for the upcoming matches. Scottish go into the first match of the play offs against Esher probably as the under dogs in terms of current form. Esher will be highly confident following their recent performances, however this will allow Scottish the opportunity to exact revenge in their recent loss at the Hersham Road ground and kick on in the play offs towards another season in the Championship. It is interesting to note who the match referee will be for the match on Saturday, as it will be the International Rugby Board panel referee Wayne Barnes. Wayne was the match official in last weekend’s France v Ireland 17 – 17 draw in Paris in front of a crowd of 80,000. He also courted controversy when he was the mach official in the Wales versus Ireland match on the 5th of February, when he yellow carded the Wales second row Bradley Davies in a tip tackle at a line out which looked to be a certain red card. Welcome to the Championship Wayne.

Given that this is Scottish’s fourth visit this season to Molesey Road ground, few will not be aware of how to get to the match location. However, for those that have not been there previously the following are the directions. Scottish supporters making the trip and are driving to the game they should enter the post code KT12 3PF into their Sat Navs, which should take you straight to the ground. For the non-techies they should leave the M25 at junction 10 onto the A3 towards London. After approximately 1 mile turn left onto the A245 and after a further ¼ of a mile turn right at the traffic lights on the B365, Continue on this road until you reach a small roundabout and turn right into Burwood Road. Follow this into Hersham Village, bearing right into Molesey Road. Keep straight on at the large roundabout, under the railway bridge at Hersham Station and the ground is 300 yards on the left. Those travelling by train should catch a train from Richmond, changing at Clapham junction for Hersham Station. This journey will take just over half an hour.

All Scottish supporters are encouraged to make the short journey over to Esher on Saturday for this crucial fixture. Your support of the team is as always greatly appreciated by the players and coaching team. Let’s make sure we hear the Scottish roar load and clear and cheer the team onto victory. See you all there. C’mon Scottish!
 

London Scottish get off to Winning Start in Playoff Campaign

London Scottish get off to Winning Start in Playoff Campaign

London Scottish took their first step towards continuing Championship rugby next season, when they defeated their fellow rivals Esher 16 - 20 in the opening match of the play off pool games. This victory was achieved through a dogged defensive performance, which was built upon a very strong effort by the whole team throughout the match.

London Scottish took their first step towards continuing Championship rugby next season, when they defeated their fellow rivals Esher 16 – 20 in the opening match of the play off pool games. This victory was achieved through a dogged defensive performance, which was built upon a very strong effort by the whole team throughout the match.

On a bright and sunny early spring day London Scottish again made a number of changes to their starting XV, with John Bordiss coming in at full back and Dan Mugford returning to the side at fly half following his recent injury.  In the forwards Nic Auterac came in at loosehead prop and James Kellard in the back row.  Esher kicked off and played towards the club house end of the ground.  In the opening phases of the game the home side took the play to Scottish and firm defence by the away side prevented Esher from making any headway into the Scottish 22 metre area.  Scottish relieved this early pressure when Esher were penalised and they took play into the home teams half.

MPU

Scottish opened the scoring on the 6th minute when they were awarded a penalty, after match official Wayne Barnes penalised Esher for going over the top at a ruck just outside their 22 metre area.  Fly half Dan Mugford converted the penalty attempt to put Scottish into an early lead.  This lead was short lived as within two minutes Esher were able to put their first points on the board  after Scottish were penalised for not releasing the tackled player on the their 22 metre line, immediately in front of the posts.  Flanker Peter Synnott converted to leave the scores all square.

Shortly after, scrum half Simon Amor made a very good charge down in the Esher 22 metre area, however Scottish were unable to capitalise and they subsequently knocked on.  From the resultant scrum, Esher was able to take play up to the half way line.  Scottish nearly scored the first try of the match on the 15th minute after the ball was passed through the backs hands out to winger Gerard Mullen.  Mullen hacked the ball through but unfortunately the bouncing ball spun out of play in the dead ball area as Mullen was about touch the ball down.  Scottish re-took the lead on the 18th minute when the Esher scrum was penalised for their front row standing up at the scrum.  Mugford converted to leave the score 3 – 6.

Esher again pegged back Scottish when the away side’s pack was penalised for wheeling a scrum just outside their 22 metre area.  Synnott again converted his penalty attempt.  On the half hour mark, Esher capitalised on a missed knock on by the match officials by one of the Esher players, and at the following ruck the referee penalised Scottish for not realising the tackled player.  Synnott converted to put the home side in the lead for the first time 9 – 6.  Scottish soon regained the lead when they scored the first try of the match on 33rd minute when full back John Bordiss caught an up and under on the Scottish 10 metre line.  Bordiss side stepped through the oncoming Esher players and made a superb break into the home sides half of the pitch.  Bordiss was eventually tackled on the Esher 22 metre line, but was able to off load to the supporting player Number 8 Mark Bright.  Bright made more ground towards the Esher try line and again managed to pass out to winger Mullen who raced away from the trailing Esher covering defence to touch down in the corner.  Mugford missed a difficult conversion attempt to leave Scottish in front 9 – 11.  The Esher scrum was again penalised at the set piece shortly before the half time whistle for their front row standing up at the scrum.  Mugford missed with his penalty attempt as the ball fell short of the posts.

 Esher made a change in their backs at half time bringing on Luke Daniels, who slotted in on the wing with Phil Mackenzie moving into the outside centre berth.  On the 43rd minute the Scottish pack took a driving maul some 20 metres down field into the Esher 22 metre area with one of the Esher forwards being penalised for deliberately pulling down the rolling maul.  Mugford increased the Scottish lead to five points when he converted the penalty.  On the 49th minute the Esher hooker James Campbell who must have run some 20 metres across the pitch entered a ruck at a 90 degree angle and was immediately penalised by the referee.  Mugford converted to leave the score 9 – 17.

Esher came straight back into the match on the 53rd minute when the home sides backs worked a very good move as they moved the ball between various players.  The ball was eventually moved out onto the wing where replacement winger Daniels raced away to score in the corner.  Synnott converted a very difficult conversion to leave Scottish ahead by only one point at 16 – 17. On the 56th minute the Esher pack were yet again penalised at a scrum for their front row standing up.  Although the conversion attempt was some 35 metres out, the Mugford conversion attempt soared between the posts.  Shortly later, Scottish replaced their half backs with James Brown coming on at fly half and Matt Heeks replacing Simon Amor at scrum half.

For the next 15 minutes Scottish kept the play deep in the Esher half and contained the home side within this area of the field.  Every time the home side tried to move the ball the Scottish defence closed them down restricting the options open to Esher.  On the 67th minute Esher were penalised for holding onto the tackled player 15 metres inside their half.  Brown missed his penalty conversion attempt with the ball drifting to the right of the posts.  Esher had an opportunity to reduce the arrears on the 74th minute after Scottish were penalised for a tip style tackle just inside the Scottish half of the pitch, however Synnott’s penalty attempt fell short of the posts.  For the remainder of the match the home side threw everything, but the kitchen sink at the Scottish defence.  Scottish dug deep and the covering defence was immense not allowing any Esher attacks to develop into anything threatening, and as the final whistle went the delight on the Scottish players was all to be seen with Scottish achieving their first ever win away at Esher in league competition.

This win was achieved by a truly team performance and the number of missed tackles could be counted in less than two fingers on one hand.  The covering defence was immense with no Esher player being allowed to break the line in the last 20 minutes of the game.  The team which took to the field in this game was probably the strongest line up that the club has achieved all season and it augers well for the remaining games in the play offs.  Next Sunday, Scottish play their second playoff match, when they entertain Moseley at home.  Look out for the match preview later in the week.

John Hewitt selected Adam Kleeburger as the Jock Meikle sponsored away supporters Man of the Match award.  

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