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Scots grab 2 points at Butts Park Arena

Scots grab 2 points at Butts Park Arena

. Photo by Harry Hubbard.

London Scottish headed north to National One champions Coventry with high expectations. Despite a humbling loss to London Irish the week before at the RAG, the exiles were still positive after their previous two wins over Bedford Blues and Jersey Reds .

The Scots arrived at Butts Park Arena carrying a few injuries but with a strong side named despite the six changes after the Irish encounter. Storm Callum was in full force in the Midlands with an aggressive wind blowing vertically down the pitch. The Scots were playing into this wind in the first half.

With the wind at their backs Coventry started the first half strongly, again taking advantage of a London Scottish side who seemed to take a while to get going, something which has plagued the side this season.

After only four minutes and some sustained pressure in the Scots 22, former London Scottish fly half Jake Sharp flung the ball wide to Tony Fenner who cantered in at the corner from 5 metres out. Coventry had an early 5-0 lead.

Only five minutes later Coventry had their second score of the day. The set play from Coventry went to floor but they scooped the ball up and some neat interplay between the Cov backline lead to scrum half Pete White going in under the posts. Coventry has stormed out to a 12-0 lead after ten minutes.

The Scots then finally entered the fray as they started to put some phases together and kept hold of the ball. Inside centre Henari Veratau was finding some good progress down the Coventry 10/12 channel and the forwards were plugging away around the ruck with Grayson Hart looking dangerous. It was this pressure that lead to the first points of the afternoon for Scottish. After some sustained work and a great carry from Byron Hodge, Rory Jennings stroked over an easy penalty in front of the sticks. 12-3 to Coventry.

Straight from kick off Scottish were under the kosh yet again and it was only a matter of time with a strong wind advantage that Coventry would add to their try tally. Coventry’s forwards worked their way slowly to the line and eventually crashed over through Alex Woolford. Sharp added the extras and it was 19-3 to the hosts.

MPU

This is how the first half would finish. Scottish continued to apply some pressure on Coventry, forced to play from their own half due to the extreme wind they were literally throwing caution to the wind. Despite their best efforts and some remarkable Cov lineout defence, Scottish could not get over the whitewash to add to their 3 points.

HT –  Coventry 19 – 3 London Scottish

Scottish came out in the second half upbeat and it was noticeable they were confident heading into the next forty minutes knowing they had the wind advantage and the superior fitness.

In another tale of two halves Scottish looked reinvigorated and were instantly on the front foot, pressing in attack. The second half was only four minutes old when skipper Mark Bright managed to get a 5-pointer. Coventry spilled possession in midfield and after some quick handling Bright found a bit of space and fended off the covering defence to crash over. Scottish were right back in the game. 19-10 to Coventry.

Only ten minutes later the Scots brought themselves within touching distance of the hosts. A huge turnover at scrum time meant Scottish were again on the offensive. The ball was passed wide to in-form Rob Stevenson who crashed through 3 or 4 Coventry players to score out wide, an impressive finish. The extras weren’t added this time and the score was 19-15.

After Scottish had dragged their way back into the tie, they were again under their own posts. Some silly penalties meant Cov had a lineout 5 metres out and after multiple pick and go’s, replacement hooker Scott Tolmie fell over the line for the try. The extras were missed and Coventry extended their lead back to nine points. 24-15 after 63 minutes.

It was back and forth for the next 10 minutes as both teams traded blows. Scottish were pushing to get something out the game, Coventry were trying to close out for an important win.

As if from nothing, the ball was spilled by an oncoming Scottish attacker and Coventry quickly pounced and fed their winger who ran in another try. Trimble had run the ball in from 60 metres beating the valiant covering Scottish defence. Extras were again missed 29-15.

For the final quarter of the game the Scots were pressing and piling on the pressure, knowing they could still get something out of the game, especially with the wind advantage.

Rory Brand, making his first appearance for the exiles on loan from London Irish, had an immediate impact from the replacements bench as he sniped off the back a driving maul to sneak Rob Stevenson in at the corner. Rory Jennings added the conversion and all of a sudden Scottish were again fighting for an amazing comeback.

Stevenson completed his hat trick shortly after, again sneaking over on his left wing. Scottish were throwing the ball around trying desperately to add to their try tally and they eventually did. It was a team effort as they worked their way up the field grinding Coverntry down through the phases. Brand again spotted some space down the blind and slipped a great pass to Stevenson who rounded off a good performance with his third try. Jennings just pushed the crucial conversion and the score was tantalisingly close. 29-27 to Coventry.

With a few minutes left to play in the game, Scottish were forced to play from their own 22 and worked through 15+ phases up the pitch but sadly knocked on and the referee blew his whistle. The Scots had nearly pulled off an extraordinary comeback. Nonetheless, they left Butts Park Arena with 2 bonus points.

Next week is shaping up as a massive fixture as Scottish head north again to take on Yorkshire Carnegie at Emerald Headingly.

FT –  Coventry 29 – 27 London Scottish

London Scottish:  Litchfield; Saunders; Cringle; Hodge; Uanivi; Tyas; Wynne; Bright (c); Hart; Jennings; Stevenson; Veratau; Smith; Ingall; Davidson // Replacements: Austin; Brodley; Palframan; Frost; Brand; Perry; Duncan

Tries Bright; Stevenson (x3)

Conversion(s) Jennings (x2)

Penalties Jennings

 

Coventry: Gibbons; Nilsen; Jeannot; Woolford; Faleafa; Peters; Ram; Nutley; White; Sharp; Halaifonua; Tuitupou; Fenner; Trimble; Stokes // Replacements: Tolmie; Titchard-Jones; Beech; Oram; Jubb; Kessell; Bulumakau

Tries Fenner; White; Woolford; Tolmie; Trimble;

Conversion(s) Sharp (x2);

 

Referee: H Smales

 

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