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Late local derby drama as London Scottish held by Blackheath

Late local derby drama as London Scottish held by Blackheath

A late try from full back Stuart Peel appeared to have given London Scottish a dramatic local derby victory against Blackheath at the Athletic Ground yesterday in their National League One meeting, only for opposing number Paul Humphries to level the scores with the very last kick of the game.

A late try from full back Stuart Peel appeared to have given London Scottish a dramatic local derby victory against Blackheath at the Athletic Ground yesterday in their National League One meeting, only for opposing number Paul Humphries to level the scores with the very last kick of the game.

A single point had separated the sides when they met at Rectory Field in February, with Scottish running out 31-30 winners, and while the return fixture perhaps didn’t quite match that game in the quality of rugby on display, there was plenty to keep an enthusiastic and vocal crowd absorbed, with the lead changing hands several times.

MPU

The opening quarter of the match saw Humphries and Scottish fly half James Brown trade two penalties apiece, but both teams missed opportunities to score the game’s opening try, with the visitors denied by poor handling at the crucial moment, and home flanker Mark Soden brought down by three Blackheath defenders as he headed for the line.

There was further frustration for the home fans as Peel charged down the touchline, ball in hand and looking certain to score, only for the referee to whistle for a penalty to Scottish for an earlier Blackheath offence.

On 24 minutes, however, Scottish got the try that they deserved, through a move begun by a chip from Brown into the left-hand-corner, the ball bouncing straight into the hands of winger David Howells, whose quick pass inside to centre Rory Damant left Blackheath with no chance to prevent the score. Brown’s conversion attempt drifted wide, making the score 11-6 to the hosts.

Within ten minutes, though, Blackheath had reclaimed the lead, benefiting from the referee playing advantage when Scottish knocked on as they threatened to score, the visitors running the ball at speed to the opposite end of the pitch where, despite Damant’s desperate covering, the ball found teenage winger Benjamin Ransom who touched down under the posts to set up the simplest of conversion chances for Humphries.

Scottish went into the interval ahead following a penalty from Brown, but within moments of the restart, Club were back in the lead after scrum half Luke Baldwin picked up from the back of a ruck and ran in from 35 metres.

Another penalty from Brown reduced the gap to a single point, but on 54 minutes Humphries replied for Blackheath to restore his side’s advantage to four points, and while both teams had try-scoring chances, there was little hint of the dramatic finale that lay ahead.

With the clock ticking down, a Humphries penalty struck the post, and Scottish surged forward looking for the match winning score, with first Mark Soden held up right on the line, then man-of-the-match Tom Standfield seeming to have crossed over to huge cheers only for the referee to adjudge that the ball had not been grounded.

From the resulting five-metre scrum, Scottish won a free kick and with the ball passed quickly out to the left, Frankie Neale, on as a replacement against his former club, found Peel who dived in at the corner to the delight – and relief – of the home fans. From a difficult angle, Brown’s conversion sailed over, and victory appeared to have been sealed.

Blackheath hadn’t finished, however. From the restart, their forwards drove at the Scottish pack and were rewarded with a penalty 30 metres out, which Humphries put over to make the final score 24 apiece.

Yesterday’s draw leaves Scottish needing to win or draw at Sedgley Park next weekend to guarantee finishing the season second in the league ahead of Launceston, 71-8 winners over Manchester yesterday, who complete their fixtures on Saturday at home to Cinderford.

Scottish are currently three points ahead of the Cornish All Blacks, and should the former lose and the latter win next weekend, it is possible that the two sides could finish level on points for the season if Scottish pick up one more bonus point than Launceston. A draw for Scottish and win for Launceston would also see the sides tied on 105 points, should the Cornish side score four or more tries and Scottish fail to do so.

In that event, with each team having secured 21 wins, only a pair of freak scorelines would see Scottish, who have a vastly superior points difference to Launceston, denied second place.

Home Team
Tries: Damant, Peel; Conversion: Brown; Penalties: Brown (4)
Away Team
Tries: Ransom, Baldwin; Conversion: Humphries; Penalties: Humphries (4)
Home Team
Peel, Piotrowski, Damant, Trueman, Howells, J Brown, Amor, M Johnson, Standfield, Fahey, Karonias, Fullarton, Soden, Yellowlees, Lipp (Replacements: Ellis, Kent, Lonergan, Grant, Neale)
Away Team
Humphries, Ransom, Windsor, Lankshear, Lewis, Vaughan, Baldwin, Cleverley, H Allen, Brett, Dewwale, Bason, Pike, D Allen, Catt (Replacements: Knight, Paddick, Winwood, Hamilton, Ibrahim)
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