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London Scottish overcome Blackheath in 31 – 30 thriller

London Scottish overcome Blackheath in 31 – 30 thriller

London Scottish claimed the spoils by a solitary point at Rectory Field yesterday following an enthralling National League 1 encounter that must rank as one of the most gripping meetings ever between two clubs with almost 275 years of history between them.

London Scottish claimed the spoils by a solitary point at Rectory Field yesterday following an enthralling National League 1 encounter that must rank as one of the most gripping meetings ever between two clubs with almost 275 years of history between them.

Although the game would doubtless have delighted any neutrals in the near-1,000 crowd, the scoreline remained too close throughout to allow partisans of either camp to fully relax, and Blackheath supporters will be ruing some slack play at the restart that more than once led to a Scottish score.

MPU

Meanwhile, their counterparts from South West London will be relieved to have headed back across the city with five points despite their side conceding turnover ball on a number of occasions as the home pack rose to the occasion, belying the two teams’ respective league positions.

Scottish raced to a 12-3 lead within the opening eight minutes, giving no hint of the drama to come. Following an early penalty kick sent through the posts by Blackheath fly half Paul Humphries, the restart found the home defence in disarray, the visitors attacking first down the left, then switching play to the right.

With team-mates queuing up outside him, fly half James Brown chipped a kick towards the corner, which Tom Standfield deftly gathered, and the hooker was adjudged to have grounded the ball despite the attentions of the home defence.

Brown missed his conversion attempt, but made amends when a further opportunity presented itself moments later, as an awkward bounce caught out Blackheath, Scottish left wing David Howells gathering well to outsprint the defence for the score.

If that early brace of tries suggested that Scottish, second in the league, would dominate the afternoon, Blackheath had other ideas. On the quarter hour, 17-year-old debutant left wing Ben Ransom finished off a well-worked move, with Humphries’ conversion narrowing the gap to four points.

Three minutes later, the hosts took the lead through skipper Tom Bason, the big second row scooping up the loose ball following a ruck in midfield and charging for the line, putting Blackheath 15-12 ahead.

A penalty from Brown shortly before the half-hour restored parity, but Club were soon back in the lead, flanker Dave Allen touching down after a big push from the home pack in the left-hand corner. Humphries’ kick went inches wide, which together with a miss from his previous conversion attempt and an earlier penalty would ultimately prove costly.

The closeness of the match was underlined by the teams going into the interval all square, after Scottish No 8 Willie Lipp got the vital touch following a push from the Scottish forwards, Brown missing the conversion, leaving the score at 20 apiece.

The second half saw Scottish benefit from the slope of the pitch, although any potential advantage was offset by their playing with the late afternoon sun in their eyes, and early exchanges saw neither side able to break through until a flash of brilliance from Ransom that will live long in the memory.

Gathering the ball well inside his own half, the teenager raced for the Scottish line, jinking his way past tackle after desperate tackle to score the try of the afternoon, touching down under the posts to set up an easy conversion chance for full back Tom White, taking over kicking duties.

Once again, however, celebrations were short-lived as three minutes later, Frankie Neale – one of two Scottish players, along with scrum half Simon Amor, facing their former club – hit back with a try in the right-hand corner to clinch the bonus point.

From a difficult angle, Brown’s conversion attempt drifted wide, and just after the hour, Blackheath extended their lead through another penalty from Humphries. But immediately after the restart, the hosts were penalised, and this time Brown’s aim was true as he sent his kick between the posts.

With the game in its closing ten minutes, Blackheath had the visitors under pressure, but Scottish broke out of defence through winger Charlie Broughton, the move resulting in a penalty which Brown kicked from a difficult angle 25 metres out on the touchline to make the score 31-30.

As the clock ticked down, Blackheath battered the Scottish lines as they as they sought a match-winning score. A penalty attempt from Humphries went agonisingly close as the wind picked up and took the ball just wide, and with time running out, the hosts were clearly setting up for a drop-kick.

The ball found its way back from a ruck to Humphries, but with the Scottish defence closing down quickly, he had no opportunity to get a kick away. Then, from the next phase, the ball was passed to full back Tom White, whose drop-goal attempt passed just the wrong side of the posts, to the dismay of home supporters and relief of the travelling fans, who greeted the final whistle with a resounding cheer.

The win consolidates second place in the league for Scottish, who lie 17 points ahead of third-placed Launceston, both sides having played 19 matches. Leaders Esher, who yesterday beat Wharfedale, whom Scottish visit next week, 47-12, have played one game less and remain five points clear.

Home Team

Blackheath 30 (Tries: Ransom (2), Bason, Allen; Conversions: Humpries, White; Penalties: Humphries, White)
Away Team
London Scottish 31 (Tries: Standfield, Howells, Lipp, Neale; Conversion: Brown (1); Penalties: Brown (3)
Home Team
Blackheath: White, Lankshear, Windsor, Hamilton, Ransom, Humphries, Baldwin, Legg, Knight, Winwood, Bason, Dewale, Paddick, Allen, Catt (Replacements: Herring, Cleverly. Pike, Olima, Ibrahim)
Away Team
London Scottish:

 Neale, Broughton, Damant, McInroy, Howells, Brown, Amor, Johnson (M), Standfield, Fahey, Karonias, Fullarton, Ball, Yellowlees, Lipp

Replacements:

Graham, Silvester, Soden, Grant, Peel

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