A London Scottish Rampant Lions XV lost a close game 19-18 to an Army 2nd side in Aldershot on Monday evening, a late penalty condemning them to a one point defeat. Match report by Corne Du Rand.
There have been many fixtures between the Army and London Scottish played over the years but with Scottish now in the Championship and committed to a more professional setup with no 2nd team, this particular fixture is a difficult one to commit to.
But the London Scottish Rampant Lions side, a XV made up out of London Scottish senior amateurs, players from the professional squad which need game time, young players in the club’s development structure which shows promise and some players from the Scottish Exiles program, made the journey to Aldershot to face the Army 2nd team.
A squad of 19 players travelled to Aldershot, with 3 forwards and a back as subs. The game kicked off on a pleasant February evening with the Army applying pressure from the start. Scottish looked slightly nervous in the beginning stages of the game and, after enduring early pressure in their own half, they were penalised on the 22 metre line and the Army took the points on offer from the penalty.
Scottish started growing into this game and in the 11th minute, Ross Samson took a quick tap and went to the left, playing Dave McCall on an outside break who in turn released David Howells. The winger sprinted 35m down the touch line, breaking a tackle to finish off in the corner with the game’s first try. The conversion was just wide from fly-half Will Alkin.
Mike Howlett replaced Calum Yetman on the open side after the latter took a knock to the head. One of the hallmarks of the game was the outstanding work in defence by Scottish with Fraser Millar, Mike Howlett, Dennis Gibson and Hamish Coventry working particularly hard in that department.
The Army were soon back in the lead after a penalty 40 metres out for Scottish holding on. Scottish elected to try and run the ball out of their own 22 throughout the ball and though, at times, this tactic resulted in unnecessary pressure, at other times it was successful due to swift moving of the ball. Not long after the previous penalty, however, the Army bagged another 3 points from 35 metres out for the same offence, taking the score to 9-5.
A scrum transgression in Army territory gave Alkin the chance to setup a lineout 5m away from the try-line, from which a forward drive took shape after a good Ollie Sanderson take. A couple of controlled forward pick and goes set up Number 8 Stuart May to drive over with a try with a Conor Turner assist. The conversion from the 15m line was unsuccessful but Scottish were back in the lead.
The last ten minutes of the half saw Ross Peacock replacing Howells on the wing and he added immediate pressure through chasing a clever kick from Samson down the left tramlines and forcing a lineout deep in Army territory. His big test in defence came when the big Fijian number eight charged from the scrum but Peacock committed and stopped the big man’s momentum. The half ended in a well deserved one point lead by London Scottish as they edged in front 10-9.
James Parker replaced Millar at half time with Calum Yetman replacing Coventry on the blind side ten minutes into the second half. The first 15 minutes in the second half saw both teams putting together good attacking and defensive phases and making it a tight affair. Dan Tilley at full-back was solid all night while Nick Kendall was strong in midfield. Colin Quigley and Gibson made some good yards in carries throughout the whole game.
Scottish found themselves in an attacking position with Samson playing forward runners on short lines from the ruck and captain Quigley collected a pass to break the line and feed loosehead Turner on the 22m line. He then completed a pass to Parker to sprint for the line and score a delightful front row try. The conversion went just wide.
Craig McGrath then replaced young Turner in the front row with 25 minutes to go and soon after, the Army grabbed a try of their own, their centre running a good line off the back of a scrum and diving over. The conversion made it 16-15 with the Army taking the lead again. Scottish then replied with a successful penalty by Alkin to make it 18-16. Coventry came back onto the field to replace Sanderson, who had been a good lineout source throughout the whole game.
The last few minutes of the game saw the Army trying hard to set up a platform but McGrath got in amongst their drive 18m short from the their try line and ripped the ball to stop the threat. However, in the 78th minute the Army were awarded a penalty on the 22 for a high or dangerous tackle, after their fly half had ducked into a Scottish tackle. The kick went right over, making it 5 out 6 for the night for their kicker.
Scottish were running out of time and, after good recycling of the ball in trying to force a penalty or working for an opportunity, a knock-on brought the game to a close, leaving Scottish with a 19-18 defeat. It was a good performance by the Scottish team and all who took part should be very pleased, result-aside.
The London Scottish Rampant Lions team:
15 Dan Tilley; 14 Tom Trotter, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Nick Kendall, 11 David Howells; 10 Will Alkin, 9 Ross Samson; 1 Conor Turner, 2 Fraser Millar, 3 Colin Quigley (c); 4 Dennis Gibson, 5 Ollie Sanderson; 6 Hamish Coventry, 7 Calum Yetman, 8 Stuart May
16 James Parker, 17 Craig McGrath, 19 Mike Howlett, 20 Ross Peacock