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London Welsh – Sunday 19th February, 2pm

London Welsh – Sunday 19th February, 2pm

If November's result between these two sides is anything to go by, with Gordon Ross' penalty with the last kick of the game giving Welsh bragging rights over London Scottish in the 'Battle of the Exiles', then we should be in for another thriller at Richmond Athletic Ground on Sunday, with London Welsh having developed a liking for late drama.

If November’s result between these two sides is anything to go by, with Gordon Ross’ penalty with the last kick of the game giving Welsh bragging rights over London Scottish in the ‘Battle of the Exiles’, then we should be in for another thriller at Richmond Athletic Ground on Sunday, with London Welsh having developed a liking for late drama.

Although the weather has played havoc with Welsh's fixture list in recent weeks with two home fixtures against Doncaster Knights being cancelled, a trip to the Cornish Pirates three weeks ago saw London Welsh losing in miserable conditions at the Mennaye Field while games against Bristol and Rotherham both produced late nailbiters with Welsh winning both, but such late thrills and spills have been par for the course for Welsh so this season under new head coach Lyn Jones.

MPU

That’s not to say the Exiles haven’t experienced the other side of that particular coin, with such results simply addressing the balance following agonisingly late defeats at Bristol and to Bedford in the British & Irish Cup while the Christmas period saw Welsh draw with Esher and lose to Moseley, two games that, on paper, they should have won.

Former Ospreys maestro Jones had been quick to make his mark at Welsh when he joined in August, but he wasn’t the only new face at Old Deer Park this season with the likes of Edd Thrower (Bedford), Seb Jewell (Wasps/Esher), Ed Jackson (Doncaster Knights), Adam Brown (Newport Gwent Dragons), Will Hurrell (Leicester Tigers), Tom French (ex Wasps and Barking) Billy Moss (Bath) and former Plymouth record breaking number ten Alex Davies among the new arrivals on the playing front.

After recent results going against the Scottish, Welsh will be very wary of a backlash on Sunday.

To purchase advance tickets for what promises to be the biggest gate of the season, please click here.

London Scottish 22 – 29 London Welsh

London Scottish 22 – 29 London Welsh

In front of over 2000 supporters, the largest home crowd of the season, London Scottish lost 22 - 29 against their near neighbours London Welsh in the oldest Exiles fixture in the world. A much improved Scottish performance from their previous outing, as they matched their opponents in a fiercely contested match.

In front of over 2000 supporters, the largest home crowd of the season, London Scottish lost 22 – 29 against their near neighbours London Welsh in the oldest Exiles fixture in the world. A much improved Scottish performance from their previous outing, as they matched their opponents in a fiercely contested match.

On a bright, but crisp winters day London Scottish kicked off playing towards the park end of the ground with a stiff breeze blowing in the Scottish faces.  Scottish made a number of changes from the Esher starting line up with Agustin Gosio coming in on the wing, Oli Brown at centre and Adam Kwasnicki at hooker.  In the opening phases of the game Welsh took the play to Scottish through their forwards.  The first real opportunity fell to Welsh as they broke down their right flank when winger Nick Scott chipped over the oncoming Scottish defence, however the ball went into the Scottish dead ball area and Scottish full back John Bordiss touched down for a 22 metre drop out.

MPU

Welsh opened the scoring on the 5th minute, when the former Scotland fly half Gordon Ross made a half break with the ball being eventually passed to flanker Ben Russell who cut through the Scottish defence to score beneath the posts.  Ross converted a simple conversion attempt.  Scottish got back into the game shortly later when their backs made an excellent break, with the ball being moved out to winger Gerard Mullen out on the wing.  Mullen made ground down the wing and as full back Seb Jewell closed in on Mullen he delicately chipped over the Welsh defence into their 22 metre area.  As the covering centre Lewis went to take the bouncing ball it spun away from him and second row Alex Karonias was on hand and collected the ball touching down 15 metres in from the touchline.  In difficult kicking conditions, fly half Oli Grove pushed his conversion kick to the right of the posts to leave the score 5 – 7.

On the 13th minute Scottish took the lead when Welsh were penalised for not releasing the tackled player just outside their 22 metre area immediately in front of their posts.  Grove made no mistake with this effort as the ball soared over the uprights.  On the 15th minute, Welsh retook the lead after the Scottish scrum was penalised for collapsing a scrum, with Ross again stroking the penalty through the posts.  In a game that was swinging both ways, Welsh nearly scored their second try on the 19th minute when they created a good move through scrum half Rob Lewis ,who fed onto number 8 Ed Jackson, but a very good tackle by centre Ryan Western forced the big number 8 to knock on.  Welsh however did score their second try shortly after when at a line out in the Scottish 22 metre area, flanker Lee Beach stripped the ball in the tackle.  Scrum Half Rob Lewis took the ball forward and passed to flanker Ben Russell who dived over to score.  Ross converted to put Welsh in a commanding position, however for the remainder of the first half neither side was able to exert any dominance in the play as Scottish battled to overcome the wind which they were playing against.  The half time concluded with neither team scoring any further points leaving a score line of 8 – 17. 

Scottish opened the second half on the front foot as they forced Welsh to play in their own half of the field.  On the 44th minute Grove kicked the ball long in the wind and Welsh touched down in their dead ball for a drop out.  From the drop out Scottish turned the ball over and Grove switched the play as he kicked to the corner flag.  Winger Mullen was on hand as he collected the ball and he scored just in from of the touch flag.  Grove converted a very difficult attempt to reduce the arrears to a 2 point deficit.  Scottish during the half time break made a couple of tactical changes in the scrum, bringing on props Nic Auterac and Aaron Liffchak.  These changes were clearly paying dividends, as the Scottish scrum were now dominating the set pieces and Welsh began to concede an ever increasing number of penalties.  Scottish had an opportunity to take the lead again on the 55th minute when Welsh were penalised for holding onto the player in the tackle, just outside the Welsh 22 metre area.  Grove took the conversion attempt, but the match officials deemed that the ball had gone wide.

Welsh scored their third try from a very good backs move.  Tongan centre Hudson Tonga’uiha made a good break in the centre of the field.  He beat two Scottish backs and moved the ball out to winger Guy Armitage, (who was previously at Scottish on dual registration from London Irish) out on the wing.  As Armitage moved into the Scottish 22 metre area he was tackled by Bordiss, but managed to off load to Tonga’uiha who was in close support and although his pass appeared to be forward, however the referee who was five metres behind play, allowed play to carry on and Tonga’uiha touched down.  Ross missed the conversion attempt to leave the score 15 – 22. Welsh scored their fourth and bonus point try on the 63rd minute when their backs moved the ball through hands, with Jewell making the initial break, passing to the supporting centre Lewis who scored out wide.  Ross converted a difficult conversion attempt to push to the score line to what appeared beyond Scottish’s reach.

Scottish had other ideas and from the re-start forced Welsh to play the ball in their 22 metre area and as Welsh were trying to run the ball out, flanker Adam Kleeburger stripped the ball from the Welsh player in the tackle and broke through towards the Welsh try line where he was tackled, but he managed to off load to number 8 Mark Bright, who although tackled on the try line stretched over to score.  Grove converted to leave the score 22 – 29.  Scottish nearly scored immediately after, when winger Mullen again broke through a number of tackles out on the left wing, however, as he closed in on the try line the ball went loose in the tackle and Welsh were able to clear their lines.  Welsh were now under severe pressure and the number of penalties were racking up in the closing ten minutes as they cynically tried to slow play down to relieve the pressure, however the referee was content to just award penalties.  Scottish finished the half deep in the Welsh 22 metre area, but could not find a way through the resolute Welsh defence.

A much better performance by Scottish, as they demonstrated that lessons had been learnt from their defeat last weekend.  The backs were creating a cutting edge which had been missing from the previous game, and the whole squad can be congratulated for their performance against a side that have ambitions of achieving promotion to the Premiership this season.  This was the final home match of the regular season and next week Scottish travel to Rotherham to complete their fixtures ahead of the play offs.  Look out for the match preview which will appear on the website later in the week.

 Josh Brown was awarded the First Cape Wines sponsored Man of the Match award.

The atmosphere at the game was also added to by the London Scottish regiment, who supplied pipes and drums as well as an inflatable assult course for children. Their presence was a fantastic addition to the day, and we hope that they will be at more London Scottish games in the future. For further information on their work and to get involved, please click  here.

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