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Classy Welsh outgun Scottish but valuable lessons learnt ahead of Students trip

Classy Welsh outgun Scottish but valuable lessons learnt ahead of Students trip

After last week's promising tour of Scotland, Simon Amor's men stepped up their preparation in anticipation of an assault on the National One title with a tough encounter against near rivals in exile, London Welsh.

After last week’s promising tour of Scotland, Simon Amor’s men stepped up their preparation in anticipation of an assault on the National One title with a tough encounter against near rivals in exile, London Welsh.

Newly installed boss Amor and his coaching staff learnt a lot in the matches against Currie and Ayr, with a number of the new players showing just why they have been brought to the Athletic Ground.

MPU

With the season opener against Blackheath just two weeks away, the match against Welsh – celebrating 125 years of the first ever fixture between the two – was another important marker to see how quickly the new side was developing.

As it turned out, the match was largely dominated by a ruthless Welsh outfit, who ran in eleven tries, with their hosts only crossing the whitewash twice.

The Scottish pack worked hard to match the eight from Old Deer Park, but a number of unforced errors out wide were picked off in unceremonious fashion by Phil Greening’s side.

A mistake in the opening minute gifted Welsh their opening try of the afternoon, which set the tone for an error filled performance by London Scottish. Perhaps this was to be expected with so many new faces, but full credit must be given to an excellent performance from Welsh captain Jon Mills and his men.

Ex-Harlequins man Josh Drauniniu run in a first half hat-trick, with his first – in the opening minute – coming as a result of a handling error in the Scottish midfield. The ball was quickly moved from right to left, allowing Drauniniu an easy finish, with his second set up by a scorching run through the heart of the home defence by the impressive Simon Whatling.

He completed his trio five minutes before the interval, after a flowing move that started in the Welsh twenty two. In between, there was still time for scores from Liam Gibson, who finished a 40-yard dash by Matt Corker, and Whatling himself, who capitalised on a defence splitting kick by Gordon Ross.

Ross improved four of his side’s five first half tries to send them in 33-5 ahead at the break, but a large home crowd had something to cheer about when some sustained pressure by the Scottish forwards led to Sam Harding powering over from five metres.

Even though Welsh went down to fourteen following the sin-binning of Nick Runciman just before the break, they did not let it hamper them, running in another six tries in the second half.

A ruthless show of counter attacking rugby was lapped up by a large number of visiting supporters, which added to a great atmosphere, with the away side running in a number of tries from their own half.

Amongst the try-fest, Paul Sampson scored the pick of the bunch. With Welsh pinned deep in their own half. Jon Mills led the break out, and Sampson dived over in the corner to cap a score that would not have looked out of place in the top tier.

Scottish had registered their second try of the game just before Sampson’s effort, after a neat dink through from replacement fly half James Brown allowed John Bordiss to finish in the corner, reducing the gap to 50 – 12.

Before that, the opening fifteen minutes of the half had resulted in Welsh scoring three quick tries from ex-London Scot Lorne Ward, Mills and a second for Gibson, created by the ever influential Whatling.

There was still more to come from the Championship team before the final whistle, as late scores from Ben Stevenson, and a third for Gibson, completed a tough afternoon for Darrell Ball and his men.

The only drawback of the second half for an otherwise superb Welsh side were the failings of Aled Thomas, who only managed to convert two of his six attempts on goal.

Amor was very keen before the game to highlight that this really was a big test for his young charges, and for them to treat it as a real learning curve.

The level they aspire to be at is currently where a vibrant Welsh team certainly are, and it is no coincidence that many are tipping Greening’s team to be serious contenders for promotion this term.

Scottish will have taken plenty of positives from their afternoon’s work and learnt some cruel lessons, and will head to Loughborough as determined as ever to keep improving, before the visit of Blackheath a week later.
 

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