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Scottish pass final exam before Blackheath test

Scottish pass final exam before Blackheath test

An under-strength Loughborough Students side made Scottish work thoroughly hard in this eagerly contested tie, but both sides struggled for any real cohesion in their final pre-season clash.

An under-strength Loughborough Students side made Scottish work thoroughly hard in this eagerly contested tie, but both sides struggled for any real cohesion in their final pre-season clash.

The visitors started the brighter, and crafted out an early lead through two Frankie Neale penalties, but they really should have had more for their efforts. A number of dropped and forward passes restricted them turning their possession into points, and it gave the BUCS champions renewed confidence.

MPU

A younger than usual university side were not overawed by the quick start by the side from the Athletic Ground, and held firm under some strong harrowing from the Scottish pack.

But with Simon Amor’s men in insistent mood, they finally prised open the Students defence, with Ben Lonergan smashing a hole through their inside defence after cleaning up a loose ball from a Loughborough line-out, with Oli Brown supporting to dive over. Neale converted to stretch the Scottish lead to 13.

David Howells looked to have added a second not long after some slick hands in the corner put the blonde-topped flyer in the corner, but his joy was curtailed when the final pass from Neale was adjudged to have been forward. A tight call – but correct.

Last year’s National Two play-off runners-up were really struggling to get into their customary high-tempo style, but Mike MacFarlane – who is set to be a key man for Dave Morris this year – was in no mood to accept his fate, taking the challenge to an experienced Scottish back row.

The Surrey bruiser, who also impressed last weekend for Esher’s reserve side against Barking, was in typically “route one” mood, constantly breaching the gain line.

He scored a deserved try to cap off a very good afternoon personally, but Ian McInroy and David Howells had already scored two well taken individual efforts before that to have taken the result beyond doubt.

The visitors had the bulk of possession throughout the duration of the 80 minutes, but, frustratingly, the curse of the unforced errors came to haunt Scottish time and again, much to the bemusement of the small, travelling supporters’ clan.

The last 20 minutes – which yielded MacFarlane’s score – were a lot better for the hosts, with positive performances from newcomers Chris Kinloch (who had already shown up prominently for Currie against Scottish in mid-August), Craig Holland and Jordan Brookes highlighting just why Morris has blooded so many freshers in his senior pool.

For Amor’s men, it provided a tough workout ahead of this afternoon’s National One opener, which is precisely what he would have wanted. With competition for places fierce, Saturday's team sheet should make for interesting reading.

For Morris, despite the scoreline, it seems that the conveyor belt is still in working order, and Loughborough look in no mood to relinquish their supremacy at the top of the university game quite just yet.
 

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