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Cinderford 13 London Scottish 21

Cinderford 13 London Scottish 21

The old cliché of rugby being a game of two halves proved doubly apt when London Scottish visited Cinderford yesterday.

The old cliché of rugby being a game of two halves proved doubly apt when London Scottish visited Cinderford yesterday.

Scottish overturned a 13-10 deficit at the interval, scoring 11 second-half points without reply to secure victory, while the hosts swapped their usual red, black and gold colours for their change kit of royal blue during the break as muddy conditions made it difficult to distinguish between the opposing players’ shirts.

MPU

A pre-match downpour made the going heavy at Dockham Road, although the rain had abated by the time the match kicked off, with the sun even breaking through the clouds at times, belying the conditions underfoot.

Playing with the slope in the first half, the hosts dominated territory and possession for much of the opening period, but solid defending from Scottish meant they were unable to translate that into sufficient points to withstand the pressure they were put under in the second half.

The Scottish back line’s performance again demonstrated the squad’s strength in depth, with James Brown, David Howells and Frankie Neale all missing after helping England Counties defeat Ireland at Stourbridge the previous evening, a match in which Neale scored a first-half hat-trick.

Cinderford’s try came just after the quarter hour when Matty James, who had earlier seen a penalty attempt drift wide, launched a kick high towards the left-hand corner after his side’s forwards had attempted to push over on the right. Scottish right wing Charlie Broughton was unable to claim the ball cleanly under pressure, and it broke loose for Cinderford outside centre Paul Boston to touch down. This time, James put his kick between the uprights for a 7-0 lead.

Within ten minutes, however, five points from the boot of Simon Amor, playing at fly half, and a try from Matt Johnson, put Scottish ahead as the visitors enjoyed their best spell of the first half. That try came after Amor, who had opened his account with a penalty kick, opted to put a second one into touch. From the ensuing throw-in, the Scottish pack, which put in a solid afternoon, epitomised by Ben Lonergan picking up the supporters’ man of the match award, drove at the Cinderford line.

Desperate defending from the home forwards denied the pushover try, but scrum-half Callum Grant spun the ball out to the left, setting up another attacking phase which resulted in Johnson carrying over, while Amor sent his conversion kick through the posts to make the score 10-7 to Scottish.

By half-time, the hosts had restored their advantage through two penalties from James, but those proved to be their final points of the afternoon as their change of shirts at the interval coincided with a change in fortunes, the Scottish backs closing attacks down quickly and clinically and the visiting forwards starting to dominate the game.

A 49th-minute penalty from Amor restored parity, then on 56 minutes Scottish took the lead after replacement centre Ian McInroy held off the Cinderford defence to cross over following a move set up by winger Roman Piotrowski.

Amor struck the right-hand upright with his conversion attempt, but five minutes from time made amends with his third penalty of the match to give Scottish an eight-point cushion which never looked seriously threatened as the clock ticked down.

London Scottish head coach Brett Taylor said afterwards that he was delighted with the way his team had dealt with both the conditions and a physical Cinderford side to come away with a win from one of the game’s most passionate heartlands.

“The defence in the first half was outstanding,” said, Taylor, “they had a couple of opportunities but we stayed in touch, and I thought our work rate, our pace, some of our execution and our physicality in the second half to close the game out was absolutely spot-on, so credit to all the boys.”

With Esher enjoying a week off, yesterday’s win puts Scottish, who next week host Redruth at the Athletic Ground, just a point behind them at the top of National League 1, although the Surrey side now have two games in hand.

Home Team
Boston; Conversion: James; Penalties: James (2)
Away Team
Tries: M Johnson, McInroy; Conversion: Amor; Penalties: Amor (3)
Home Team
Hawley, Winchle, Boston, Scourfield, Paim, James, Pointon, Panoho, Brown, Foden, Jones, Bufton, Deacon (c), Hall, Kenedy (Replacements: Meadows, Duncan, Evans, Elissaro, Arnott)
Away Team
Peel, Broughton, Damant, Trueman, Piotrowski, Amor, Grant, Lipp, Lonergan, Yellowlees, Fullarton, Karonias, Fahey, Standfield, M Johnson (Replacements: Ellis, Brown, Graham, Heeks, McInroy)
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