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London Scottish v Plymouth Albion Match Preview

London Scottish v Plymouth Albion Match Preview

This coming Sunday London Scottish welcomes Plymouth Albion for the penultimate home fixture of the Championship season.

This coming Sunday London Scottish welcomes Plymouth Albion for the penultimate home fixture of the Championship season.

Scottish will be smarting from their heavy defeat last weekend in the reverse play off fixture and will be determined to improve across the whole of the team. With half of the Pool C fixtures completed, Plymouth, Scottish and Moseley are all in close contention to top the Pool.

MPU

They say that “a week in politics is a long time” so in rugby terms London Scottish will have had a long time to reflect on the loss they suffered down in the South West last Friday night. A much changed Scottish side did not do themselves justice, as they were comprehensively beaten by the Devon side who, although facing well documented financial challenges and an impressive home form, produced the surprise win of the Pool C play off fixtures so far. Plymouth clearly enjoy their Friday night fixtures and have yet to lose a playoff match on a Friday.

Rugby is a game that requires passion, commitment, and desire to succeed. The Scottish team this coming Sunday will certainly not lack these and with home advantage a completely different approach is guaranteed. Home advantage in the Pool C play off fixtures is of paramount importance as out of the six fixtures played so far, five have resulted in the home side taking the honours, with the exception being Scottish’s away win at Esher in the opening fixture. Plymouth will no doubt be coming to the RAG on Sunday full of confidence after their win last Friday, but Scottish will be resolutely determined to reverse the score and maintain the home success record.

With both sides suffering injuries in last weekend’s game, the Plymouth side are now reliant on Ed Lewsey who currently works and lives in Abu Dhabi and is in his third spell at the club. Lewsey is visiting the UK and was registered at short notice as cover for the scrum half berth. Lewsey was called into action sooner than he expected from the bench and following injury to regular scrum half Ruairi Cushion after 22 minutes of the match. With Albion’s other scrum half Paul Rowley out with injury Plymouth will now be entering the match on Sunday without a replacement scrum half on the bench (although they managed this in their three previous fixtures). In addition to the Cushion injury, hooker Jon Vickers is also out with a shoulder injury. As highlighted in last week’s preview Scottish will need to be more disciplined on the field, with full back James Love proving that he is leading points scorer in the play offs with 45 points from Albion’s three playoff fixtures.

For Scottish, a number of players will return to the side that missed the Friday night fixture and will enhance the match day squad. The Championship is a tough environment at the best of times, and Scottish clearly suffered last weekend after only having six days between the Moseley and Plymouth fixtures. The extra rest period will have allowed the team to re-group and focus on addressing the lessons learned from last weekend’s loss. It has been said many times how much the team value the support provided from the sidelines and this coming Sunday it cannot be understated how important your support to the team is.

To all supporters of Scottish please make sure that you get down to the RAG and show your support for the team. The team has worked extremely hard during the play offs and with your support we will progress further in the playoffs.

C’mon the Scottish.
 

London Scottish 6 – 11 Plymouth Albion

London Scottish 6 – 11 Plymouth Albion

London Scottish was denied at least a draw in this game, when the match officials ruled that the final pass in a very good backs move was forward in the last play of the game. In a much improved Scottish performance from their heavy loss away at Plymouth Albion last time out, they secured a losing bonus point. The bonus point opens up a nine point gap between Scottish and bottom placed Esher with two games remaining.

London Scottish was denied at least a draw in this game, when the match officials ruled that the final pass in a very good backs move was forward in the last play of the game. In a much improved Scottish performance from their heavy loss away at Plymouth Albion last time out, they secured a losing bonus point. The bonus point opens up a nine point gap between Scottish and bottom placed Esher with two games remaining.

In a glorious bright and sunny spring afternoon Scottish began the game playing towards the park end of the ground with the sun in their eyes.  Scottish made a number of changes from their previous starting line up in the away game at Plymouth.  John Bordiss returned at full back replacing Stuart Peel, Dan Mugford returned at fly half and Steve Pape replaced Josh Brown in the pack.  In the opening phases of the game Plymouth regained possession from their kick off and immediately drove towards the Scottish defence through a series of rolling mauls.  With a promising overlap for the away side in the offering, winger Gerard Mullen intercepted a Plymouth pass in the Scottish 22 metre area.  Shortly after, centre Ryan Westren made a very good half break through the centre of the park, making over 20 metres before he was stopped by the Plymouth defence.

MPU

Plymouth opened the scoring on the 3rd minute after Scottish were penalised for a high tackle midway between the home sides 10 metre line and the half way line.  Winger and prolific point’s scorer James Love converted.  A few minutes later, Scottish were penalised again for coming in at the side of the ruck and Plymouth opted to kick to take play to just outside the home sides 22 metre area.  The Albion side retained possession from the line out, however at the subsequent phases of play Scottish turned the ball over and cleared the ball down field.  On the 11th minute Plymouth were penalised for not rolling away at the ruck 30 metres out immediately in front of the posts. Mugford’s penalty attempt drifted to the right of the posts.  In the opening quarter of the game Plymouth were clearly in command of possession and the Scottish defence was closing down any opportunities which came the Devon sides way.

On the 23rd minute a good catch and drive by the Plymouth pack from a lineout was stopped by the Scottish defence when a defending player infringed coming in from the side at the rolling maul.  The referee penalised Scottish and the conversion attempt by Love hit the post with ball coming back into the field of play where Number 8 Mark Bright collected.  Bright passed to Mugford who pushed play close to the half way line.  The Plymouth fly half Paul Roberts attempted to take play deep into the Scottish 22 metre area, however his kick went out in the dead ball area resulting in play being brought back for a scrum on the Plymouth 10 metre line.  It took Scottish until the 35th minute of the match to gain any territory in the Albion’s 22 metre area.  Plymouth were penalised for not releasing the player in the tackle and Mugford kicked the penalty into the corner.  From the line out Scottish caught the ball and drove towards the Plymouth line and were held up 5 metres out.  The ball was then switched to the backs and as the ball was being passed through hands a wayward pass allowed Love to hack the ball down field.  In the pursuit to get the ball, Love was able to collect the grubber kick first and appeared to have the pace to out run the covering Scottish backs.  In stepped winger Agustin Gosio to save the day and made up ground on Love and tackled him 20 metres inside the Scottish half.  In the first half Plymouth clearly had the vast majority of possession and territory, but only had a three point advantage to show for this as the sides went in for the half time break.

Scottish came out in the second half in a different frame of mind and immediately took the play into the Plymouth half of the field.  On the 43rd minute centre Ryan Westren pushed a very good grubber kick through the Plymouth defence.  Westren collected his kick and took the ball into the Albion 22 metre area.  The forwards then joined in on the action and the final pass which put Bright clean through was adjudged by the referee as being forward, otherwise Bright would have touched down beneath the posts. This was not the last time that the match officials would intervene in a forward pass decision.  At the subsequent scrum immediately in front of the posts Plymouth buckled under the pressure being exerted by the Scottish pack and collapsed the scrum.  Mugford brought the sides equal with his conversion. Plymouth recovered from the Scottish onslaught and fought their way into the match.

On the 53rd minute Scottish were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck on their 22 metre line and Love pushed Plymouth back out in front 3 – 6.  They backed this up soon afterwards and following a series of rolling mauls close to the Scottish try line, the Plymouth number 8 Aaron Carpenter broke from the base of a maul to touch down out wide.  Love missed the conversion attempt, but the try gave the Devon side an 8 point cushion.  As the match moved into the final ten minutes of play Scottish spurned an opportunity to put points on the board.  They took a quick tap penalty and ran the ball into the Plymouth 22 metre area.  Unfortunately for Scottish the ball was turned over by superb Plymouth defence.  On the 75th minute the Plymouth scrum was finally penalised for standing up, an activity which they had managed to get away with throughout the match and without punishment from the match officials.  Mugford converted to leave the score line 6 – 11.

The Plymouth side were now clearly feeling the pressure and on the 78th minute they conceded a penalty for holding onto the ball at a ruck and Scottish opted to kick to the corner.  From the line out Scottish retained possession and the forwards drove deep into the Albion 22 metre area.  As the ball was re-cycled a number of times it was eventually moved out to the backs.  The backs began to cut through their opposite numbers and eventually the ball was passed out to Gosio for him to touch down in the corner with the Scottish crowd erupting in delight.  However, the celebrations were short lived when the referee signalled that the final pass was forward.  Immediately from the scrum Plymouth retained possession and kicked the ball dead to end the game and secure their place in the Championship next season.

With Scottish gaining the losing bonus point they now move nine points ahead of their close rivals Esher with two play-off matches remaining.  Scottish now take a breather as their penultimate play-off fixture away at Moseley is on Saturday 14th  April.  This break over Easter will allow the injured players further time to recover and the coaching team will be keenly planning for the two remaining fixtures to ensure that the end the season ends on a high.  keep an eye out for the Moseley preview.

Ryan Westren was awarded the FirstCape sponsored Man of the Match award.

Next home game: Saturday 21st April v Esher – FINAL GAME OF THE SEASON

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