The annual New Year’s Eve clash between the two clubs this year again delivered, as last year, a dramatic finish!
This time though it was the turn of London Scottish to triumph! Last year Richmond scored a very good try at the death to clinch the trophy after Scottish were winning.
This year the crowd was again treated to a good competitive game with London Scottish taking the early dominance and Richmond fighting back to lead late in the game in sunny but windy conditions.
The London Scottish Rampant Lions got the first try in the 4th minute. A great tackle and turnover on the Scots own 10m line forced a penalty and George Jackson's sharp thinking resulted in him making a darting run evading Richmond defenders but was held up 3m short. Tom Doughty, hooker but doing duty at open side, was quick to support and secure for Robjohn to play a quick ball out to fullback Mikey McDonald to score under the posts. Conversion by Robjohn.
From the restart Scottish gave away a penalty for not entering through the gate and Richmond’s lively scrumhalf in exchange took a quick tap and set up a runner with a quick ruck from where he played the blind with Scottish outnumbered. Score after 7 minutes at 7-all.
Not long after, the first line-out gave Scottish good attacking ball and from the second phase a good line from second rower, Alex Burman, broke the line and with some good inter-passing got the team into the Richmond 22. Richmond went offside and winger, Toby Fricker, took a quick tap to attack the space on the far side, giving it to hooker, Ogundolunwa, with a nifty offload to Robjohn to in his reach to plant the ball for a try, but he just lost control, knocking it forward.
The following scrum was dominant from the Scots resulting in a reset and Scottish to feed. Centre, Conrad Edgar, carried strongly in midfield from the scrum, being stopped just short, but good recycled ball was played to forward runner, Seb Cecil, running hard but two desperate defenders keeping him out but not stopping him from providing another quick ball for Jackson to play Robjohn, who got the ball away to find McDonald to score his second. Conversion by Robjohn made the score 14-7 after 13 minutes.
The next score came in the 26th minute when a Richmond attacking line-out was put under pressure and slowed down the flow and resulted in the fly-half knocking on the ball. Seb Cecil was sweeping after his pressure in the line-out and picked up the loose ball and delivered a great ball away from the congestion to Robjohn’s hands and through the hands of McDonald to Fricker, still inside his half, but shrugging off 3 defenders on his way to the try line. A good counter attacking score from the Rampant Lions with Robjohn again good for the extras.
The game continued to develop and breakdown success became key. The Scots forced another penalty and set up a great position 25m out. A big drive from the line-out all the way to the line but the breakaway was held up over the line but setup a 5m attacking scrum. A dominant 8-man shove resulted in Josh Gain controlling at the back to pick and drive over for the fourth try for London Scottish. First and only miss for Robjohn but the team well in front after 34 minutes leading 26-7.
However, Richmond, were not going to give up, and even with chats within Scottish of being focused, discipline and mistakes in the last 6 minutes of the half gave Richmond penalties from which they scored two good tries and adding the extras for one, putting them back in the game at half-time with Scottish still leading 26-19.
The second half was set up for some good drama and it started with opportunities for London Scottish from line-outs close to the line, but tricky conditions meant Richmond were off the hook. A penalty line-out gave Richmond a driving opportunity which they took making the score 26-24 in the 61st minute.
With 15 minutes left on the clock a big defensive effort by the Scots contained Richmond on the outside and swung it to an opportunity for Scottish in Richmond’s territory. A drive from a line-out was stopped and the ball went out to the backs but after a few phases a penalty was conceded in the tackle area and Richmond had a chance to relieve the pressure on their line.
A strong scrum a few minutes later by Richmond forced the Scots into their 22 and they were awarded a penalty which they kicked to take the lead 26-27 with 6 minutes left as per the stadium clock!
From the restart Scottish added the pressure but a knock-on meant it was a Richmond feed. The pack dominated the scrum and got a heel against the head over Richmond and an attack was launched to get the lead back.
Richmond managed to stop Scottish at least twice close to the line and were determined not to let go of the hold they had on this trophy for so long, and a forward pass gave Richmond the chance to see out the last 3 or 4 minutes of the game. But the Scots were not done and a great eight man shove put Richmond under immense pressure leaving the number eight no choice to pick and play blind. Drew Todd now on the wing for the Rampant Lions closed down his space well and got hand to ball and managed to dive and catch it to control and secure it for Scottish, from which to launch an attack. A few phases trying to keep continuity and find a way through came undone when an unforced knock-on gave Richmond the ball back and with that their second chance of closing the game out.
The Scottish pack knew this was their last real chance and a great powerful shove pushed the Richmond pack back, giving away the penalty. Scottish had to make a good decision and posts was the right call despite the strong wind. The kick was on an angle between 25 to 30 metres away and against the horrible wind so plenty dram to follow. Will Kelly, now at flyhalf, stepped up to take the kick and struck the ball very high for a kick into the wind. The wind pushed it back but just not enough for the ball to hit the crossbar and over! Richmond raced to get the restart in but kicked it too deep and young U18 hooker and flanker, Ross Ludlow, gathered it and took it up for the rest of the forwards to secure and Jackson, now back on the pitch, to clear! With that the final whistle and happy days for London Scottish! Drama and elation to start the New Year’s Eve celebrations!
Man of the match from Scottish:
Backs: Mikey McDonald and Toby Fricker
Forwards: Tom Doughty
Score sheet: London Scottish 29 Richmond 27
Tries for Scottish: Mikey McDonald (6th and 12th), Toby Fricker (26th), Josh Gain (33rd)
Conversions: Fin Robjohn (3 out of 4)
Penalty: Will Kelly (1 out of 1)
Tries for Richmond: 4 tries
Conversions: (2 out of 4)
Penalties: (1 out of 1)
LONDON SCOTTISH TEAM SHEET:
1. Sam Nixon (capt.)
2. Bradley Ugundolunwa
23. Lawrence Couling
4. Seb Cecil
5. Alex Burman
6. Josh Smith
7. Tom Doughty
8. Josh Gain
9. George Jackson
10. Fin Robjohn
11. Harry Lightfoot-Brown
12. Conrad Edgar (v-capt.)
13. Michael Ogunwole
14. Toby Fricker
15. Mikey McDonald
16. Dan James
3. Alex Watts (injured in warm-up)
18. Will Radford
19. Jake Ashton
20. Drew Todd
21. Will Kelly
22. Ross Ludlow
24. Calum Digby
NEXT ACADEMY GAME:
The Rampant Lions U19 team is facing Moseley U19 away on the 16th of January 2016