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LONDON SCOTTISH 36 SEDGLEY PARK 15

London Scottish got their 2009/10 National League 1 campaign off to a winning start with a well-deserved 35-16 victory over Sedgley Park at the Athletic Ground, running in five tries to claim maximum points.

London Scottish got their 2009/10 National League 1 campaign off to a winning start with a well-deserved 35-16 victory over Sedgley Park at the Athletic Ground, running in five tries to claim maximum points.

Scores included tries for Fijian centre Peceli Nacamavuto, returning to competitive action after picking up an injury 12 months ago, and debutant David Howells, top try scorer in National League 3 South last season, who joined Scottish from Ealing during the close season.

MPU

After an opening exchange played mainly within the respective sides’ 22-metre lines, Scottish took the lead through a penalty from full back Frank Neale. Sedgley Park responded in kind, however, Neale’s opposing number Stephen Nutt landing a penalty from 40 metres out to level the score.

Neale had a hand in his side’s first try, slotting into the line to take the ball 20 metres forward before passing to Howells, who was pulled down five metres out but managed to pop the ball up for scrum half Matt Heeks to touch down. A successful conversion from Neale put Scottish 10-3 ahead.

Before the interval, Nacamavuto got on the scoresheet, crossing the line following a break initiated by number 8 Willie Lipp, Neale again converting to put Scottish into the break with a 17-3 lead.

Shortly after the restart, Neale himself claimed a try, although this time he missed his conversion attempt. He was successful with his next effort, however, which came after Scottish exploited the visitors’ being reduced to 14 men through the sin-binning of hooker Richard Oxley and Howells claiming his first try in Scottish colours, taking the score to 29-3.

Midway through the second half, however, it was the hosts’ turn to find themselves a man down after loose head prop Chris Johnston was yellow carded. The Manchester outfit capitalised on their advantage, pulling back five points through an unconverted try from right wing Matthew Riley.

Then, following a series of attacks that put the Scottish forwards under pressure, Sedgley Park scored again, Nutt going over and this time, the full back put his kick through the posts to reduce the deficit to 29-15.

Late on, Scottish extended their lead again after replacement Ben Lonnegan made a break and passed inside to Rory Damant, who touched down under the posts. Again, Neale converted, making the final score 36-1.

As the final whistle approached, tempers frayed, the referee producing a yellow card for Scottish flanker Paul Volley and a red one for the visitors’ number 6, Juan Crous.

London Scottish head coach Brett Taylor said, “we’re really pleased to get five points and get off to a winning start”, although he added that “the game also showed some lessons that we need to work on as well”.

Taylor said he was pleased with Howells’ debut performance, and said that having Nacamavuto back in the side was “like having a new singing”.

However, he added that the players who carried Scottish to the National 2 South title last year had also stepped up to the challenge of moving up a division, saying “it’s the Charlie Broughtons of this world, Willie Lipp has improved immensely since last year and was the man of the match and the standout player today, so it’s a series of improvements all over the field which is going to stand us in good stead this year”

Elsewhere, meanwhile, local rivals Esher, who Scottish visit on 26 September, put down an early-season marker of their intent with a 148-0 hammering of Manchester away from home.

Scottish visit Cambridge next week, who drew their opening league match 13-13 away to Redruth. Kick-off at Granchester Road is at 3pm.

Home Team
London Scottish 36

Tries: Heeks, Nacamavuto, Neale, Howells, Damant; Penalty: Neale; Conversions: Neale (4)
Away Team
Sedgeley Park 15:

Tries: Riley, Nutt; Conversion: Nutt; Penalty: Nutt
Home Team
London Scottish: Neale, Broughton, Nacamavuto, Trueman (Captain), Howells, Amor, Heeks, Johnston, Silvester, Graham, Livingston, Fullarton, Ball, Volley, Lipp (Replacements: Box, Fahey, Lonnergan, Walbyoff, Damant)
Away Team
Sedgley Park: Nutt, Riley, Hall, Craig, Bingham, Wainright, Wilkinson, Livesey, Oxley, Flynn, Norris, Williams, Crous, Dew, Lloyd (Replacements: Greenhalgh, Roberts, Lamprey, Tafa, Jones)
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