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SEASONAL CHEERS DOWN AT THE ATHLETIC GROUND

London Scottish gave home fans cause for seasonal cheer at the Athletic Ground yesterday, with their tenth successive National League 1 victory against a determined Tynedale side. The hosts ran in four tries to claim the bonus point, and with leaders Esher and third-placed Cambridge both also achieving a maximum five points, the picture at the top of the table remains unchanged.

London Scottish gave home fans cause for seasonal cheer at the Athletic Ground yesterday, with their tenth successive National League 1 victory against a determined Tynedale side. The hosts ran in four tries to claim the bonus point, and with leaders Esher and third-placed Cambridge both also achieving a maximum five points, the picture at the top of the table remains unchanged.

A strong performance from the Scottish pack built the platform for the team’s victory, but on a calm winter’s afternoon, it was the visitors that opened the scoring on three minutes. Following some good forward play down the left, the ball found hooker Gavin Beasley, whose dummy wrong-footed the entire home defence, opening up a yawning chasm in the middle of the field for him to run through and touch down. Inside centre Philip Belgian put his conversion attempt over to give Tynedale a 7-0 lead.

MPU

A penalty on 11 minutes for pulling down gave Frankie Neale the opportunity to get the first points on the board for the hosts, and seven minutes later, Scottish moved into the lead after the full back converted following a try from flanker Ben Lonergan. Another penalty, this time for offside, saw Neale extend his side’s lead to 13-7 on 26 minutes.

Shortly before half-time, Lonergan added his second try of the afternoon. That score came after a penalty to Scottish had been kicked into the corner for a lineout five metres from the Tynedale line, and from the resulting rolling maul, it was the home hooker who got the decisive touch. Again, Neale put his kick over, making the score 20-7 to Scottish at the interval.

Three minutes after the restart, a penalty from Belgian pulled back three points for the visitors, but shortly after, a try from Arthur Ellis, on as a replacement for Lonergan, made it a hat-trick for the Scottish flankers and again Neale’s aim was true as he put the hosts 27-10 ahead.

On the hour, Tynedale’s continued effort throughout the afternoon saw them restore the gap to ten points when Belgain converted his own try, but Scottish swiftly responded through a try from Gary Trueman, on as a replacement, Neale once more adding the conversion.

Tynedale still refused to give up, however, and on 72 minutes claimed what proved to be the last score of the match through a try from replacement Hamish Swales, who added the conversion himself to make the final score 34-22.

London Scottish head coach Brett Taylor said, “we played pretty well against a side that wanted to come here and play rugby, we started with a lot of energy but they managed to get over the line first, it was a really good test of rugby for us today.”

Next week, Scottish make the short trip across South London to play Blackheath, who lie third from bottom, and Taylor will be looking for his side to round off the first half of the campaign in winning fashion, saying: “We need to keep doing what we’re doing, it’s a derby, we’ll get together on Monday and look forward to Blackheath and then we’ll focus on January,” a reference to a testing schedule in the new year that pits the team against the three other members of the top four, with home games against Cambridge and Esher punctuated by a trip to Cornwall to face Launceston.

Home Team
London Scottish 34 (Tries: Lonergan (2), Ellis, Trueman; Conversions: Neale (4); Penalties: Neale (2))
Away Team
Tynedale: 22 (Tries: Gavin Beasley, Ingall, Smales; Conversions: Belgian (2), Smales; Penalty: Belgian)
Home Team
London Scottish: Neale, Broughton, Damant, McInroy, Howells, J Brown,
Amor, C Johnson, Standfield, Fahey, Karonias, Smith, O Brown, Lonergan, Lipp (Replacements: Culley, Palmer, Ellis, Grant, Trueman)
Away Team
Tynedale: Allen, Cole, Harrison, Belgian, Ingall, Grant Beasley, Shaw, Williams, Graham, Dickinson, Whitehead, Showler, Gavin Beasley, Rastall, Murray (Replacements: Smales, Pait, Jupp, Fieldhouse, Dunn)
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