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LSFC 2nd XV 52 v 5 Henley Hawks 2nd XV

LSFC 2nd XV 52 v 5 Henley Hawks 2nd XV

It was back to league duties for the 2nds last weekend (16th October) with a Shield Div 1 fixture against Henley Hawks.

It was back to league duties for the 2nds last weekend (16th October) with a Shield Div 1 fixture against Henley Hawks.

A very strong Scottish XV started well into the elements and very quickly began to dominate possession against a spirited Henley team. The forwards were on top at the set piece from the word go, putting the Henley scrum under pressure and with Pete Elder and Dan Palmer picking off the opposition throws at the lineout.

MPU

Indeed it was not long before Scottish posted the first score of the game with a well worked try by Ross Grimstone, who was all over the field from hooker, which was duly converted by Ratford.

After around 25 minutes Henley lost a prop forward to injury and with another injured in the warm up the referee had no option but to revert to uncontested scrums. There was every chance that the depowering of the set piece could have worked in Henley’s favour but the Scottish side was relentless. The Scottish lineout was commanding throughout the game and Henley were at great pains to stop a series of powerful driving mauls which Scottish used to great effect.

Lewis Calder, observed critically from the side line by his uncle and former Lions captain Finlay, was outstanding alongside his loose forward colleague Tom Yellowlees and well supported by Ross Grimstone and the entire Scottish Forward pack. Uncontested scrums led to Scottish replacing Tom Jones at prop with another loosey in Oli Brown. So with 3 marauding loose forwards and Darrell Ball and JP O’Reilly pulling the strings from No 8 and scrum half respectively Scottish’s grip on the game was complete. Darrell Ball and James Graham scored tries but the whole pack deserves the credit.

The second half was more of the same and with the wind at their backs both Craig Ratford and Frankie Neal began to pin Henley back in their own half with long raking kicks. Henley were barely able to win a lineout of their own but showed admirable spirit and retained the ball for several long periods, putting 10 and more phases together more than once. This was a great test for the Scottish resolve with the game as good as won but they did not yield and it was very pleasing to see off the back of a similarly strong defensive display on the Monday night v Oxford Uni.

The midfield of Chris Elder and Ollie Holmes alongside Ratford must take credit for this and the only criticism would be that the defence although almost water tight, could be more aggressive and dominant, especially when dominance has been achieved. The back 3 of Baffour, Neale and Piotrowski assisted the defence ably and were always threatening in attack, scoring four tries between them.

One of the great strengths of this Scottish 2nd XV over the last 3 seasons has been the strength of the bench. This game was no exception. Callum Grant replaced JP at scrum half at the break and maintained the good service to the backs and the marshalling of the rampaging forward pack. Nick Taft made a strong contribution at lock as did Baker at hooker and Chris Johnston made a welcome return to the front row after injury. Scottish made use of the rolling subs rule to reintroduce Jones for the last 20 minutes and the grip on the game was maintained with scores at regular intervals despite Henley’s revival. The one blemish for the Scottish defence came when a rare loose tackle led to a Henley break and their outside centre latched on to a pass, chipped and chased and collected the ball on the bounce to just stretch over wide out.

Scottish came straight back and finished with a flourish forcing their 8th try of the match through the tireless Calder to cap a fine performance and a very welcome victory.

Chris Wright

LSFC 2nd XV Head Coach

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