Highlanders prepare for Hogmanay fixture with win over Old Elthamians

23rd December 2015

Highlanders 33-10 Old Elthamians 19 Dec 2015 Shield 1

Welcoming back some students the Highlanders was bolstered especially in the front row with Alex Watts and Tom Doughty making a huge impact.
From the off the team applied the pressure and a knock-on by Scottish in the air worked out well, as the first scrum the pack attacked, with front row Watts, Doughty and Nixon, winning the ball against the head, for nippy stepper, Mikey McDonald to break from the base running in a great try from 30 metres out. West added the two and the Highlanders made a great start.
However the next passage of play saw a good exit from Scottish, but from the defending lineout the team gave a penalty away in midfield to setup a lineout play 5 metres out from the Scot's line. Defending the drive was priority number one and the was done well but the team failed to pull numbers out into the line and once the ball was spread down the line a good line from the opposition's outside centre found a gap to score. They added the extras making the score 7-all early on.
Better defensive work rate by Scottish meant any attacking opportunity was nullified and the opposition started to miss tackles with Fricker and Wanala on the wings making yards out wide while strong runners off 9 and 10 gave Scottish further front foot opportunities. A try was deemed to be held up and at the attacking scrum the pack do not deal with the wheel and the scrum was turned over. Another opportunity not taken but strong defence followed to setup a driving lineout followed by good patience and continuity only to be denied by a penalty for the opposition to relieve the pressure.
By this stage McDonald and Burman left the pitch under precaution to injury. Drew Todd and Kieran Clarke replaced them from the Claymores game playing out on pitch 7.
Enterprising counter attacks with good open field running, made sure the Scots were testing the defence but some decisions or impatience did not allow the team to get more return from it.
A gap in the outside channels gave Old Elthamians a chance and the pressure under the posts meant Scottish went offside and the visitors took the 3 points.
Late in the first half the team playing with more confidence keeping the ball in hand and alive with West organising attack and aggressive carries by forwards Doughty, Smith, Clarke setup a scrum 15 metres out with the whole pitch open. Kelly set it up in midfield followed by a pick and go by a forward before Todd let it go before gathering after a number of offloads for Dean Oliver to pick and go over from a metre out to finish the half a few minutes later leading 14-10.
The second half started scrappy for Scottish and but some good continuous linespeed in defence paid off and a penalty meant an attacking lineout 40 metres out. A good throw by Doughty to Oliver at the back and a wider ball by West found Kelly in a half gap and an early tackle on Ogunwole, not detected by the referee, stopped a very promising move. From the scrum the visitors cleared and a lineout was formed on the Scots 10 metre line.
This produced a well executed play straight from the training pitch. Another great ball by Hooker Tom Doughty to the back to Oliver dropping it to the scrumhalf to play West missing out the forwards and outside centre on the decoy and seeing the blindside winger, Toby Fricker, receiving the inside pass from centre, Will Kelly, breaking the line to setup Michael Ogunwole, flooding through in support and finishing a great try by Scottish! West converted making it 21-10.
The Highlanders added another two tries claiming the win and the try bonus.
First came after another good spell of defence and aggressive work at the breakdown making use of the one man advantage due to a yellow card and pinning down the visitors in their own half. The try went to man of the match, Alexander Watts, after pressure in the scrum resulted into a fumble at the base and for Scottish to pounce on it and play Watts on the blindside from the ruck to rumble over for a deserved try. Not converted.
Drew Todd scoring the last try from the base of the scrum, despite the attention of two defenders. With the extras added in front of the posts making the final score 33-10 for the Highlanders it was a welcome result ahead of the festive season!

A well deserved win and a better performance all round! Many of the lads will also play in the annual U21 game v Richmond on the 31st of December, 13:30KO. Come and support the lads!
On pitch 7 the Claymores lost out despite being in the game against London Cornish 2s at half time. Final Score 13-33.
Best for 2016 to all our senior players and to all club members as well! 

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