Match report written by Ian Hannah
London Scottish U17s knew that it was “winner takes all” in the final match of the season as they came up against second-placed Bishops Stortford on Sunday. With both teams on 21 points going into the match, it was just London Scottish’s superior score difference that had them ahead in the league. Not wanting to leave anything to chance the boys went all out to win and continue the progress they have made since their narrow loss to Chess Valley in their first match. After that game, the squad were set the challenge to win all the remaining league matches with bonus points in each. Full credit to the team, the boys responded well and have done just that.
Once again our thanks go to Friends of Scottish Rugby for their support throughout the season which has enabled London Scottish to provide a professional coaching environment through Michael Mullins, Neil MacFarlane, Phil Cringle and Deanna Bailey. The coaching team have added structure and strategy to the players’ individual skills, and that has been the difference between us and other teams in the second half of the season as the squad made their relentless drive to the top the league.
Scottish kicked off with the wind behind them and were soon awarded a penalty as Stortford didn’t release in the tackle. Max duly put the ball into the left hand the corner which set up a lineout opportunity 5m out from Stortfords line. A perfect maul resulted, and the pack eased over in the corner to take the lead to 5-0. From the restart Scottish made good use of the wind again as both Ted and Max pushed Stortford back with probing kicks over the backline, following up well. Will G was putting in a big shift from second row and our defence was stopping Stortford getting going. Stortford had a scrum deep in their 22 which Scottish put pressure on, and when the ball was released to their backline they were under pressure. A fly hack was easily gathered by Gabriel who ran in to score from close out, just right of the posts. Max added the extras to take the score to 12-0.
Stortford put in a hanging kick at the restart and followed up with a lot of pressure. Eventually Scottish knocked on in their 22. More pressure from Stortford ensued and Scottish were tempted offside at a ruck which enabled Stortford to put the ball out for a lineout 10m into the Scottish half. Sam PB won the ball at the lineout, and the ensuing phases took Scottish back into Stortford’s half, however Stortford won it back and ended up with another lineout just inside the Scottish half. Stortford then started putting a number of phases together and the pressure led to Scottish giving away a penalty on our 22 for not releasing. Stortford moved forward to claim a 5m lineout, followed up with a scrum and started probing around the fringes of the breakdown. Eventually a gap showed and Stortford scored wide out on the left. 12-5 became 12-7 as Stortford claimed the difficult kick into the wind.
Stortford continued putting the pressure on the Scots, who didn’t help themselves and were marched back 10m for throwing the ball away. However, the boys got control again and a penalty took them into the Stortford 22. The pressure told and Stortford went offside in their 22. Max again put the ball in the corner and the resulting Maul took the score to 17-7, then 19-7 as Max added the extras. The rest of the half had a bit of kick tennis before the boys moved the ball through the hands again before Diallo almost scored on the right. Stortford returned and it was Diallo who put in a couple of tackles that saved Scottish this time and there were no further scores in the half.
Scottish now had to face the wind in the second half holding a 19-7 lead. It didn’t phase them and it wasn’t long before Scots got a scrum following a double knock on in Stortford’s 22. With the ball through the hands and some neat footwork from Adam it looked like he was through for a try, however a forward pass was called and we came back for a scrum. More kick tennis ensued which put the Scots onto the back foot. A series of knock-ons and forward passes kept the pressure on the Scots before Max relieved the pressure with a penalty taking us into their 22. A series of runs from Arun kept Scottish moving forward before Arun eventually bustled through to take the score to 26-7 after Max added the extras.
Stortford came straight back and scored their second of the afternoon, which they duly converted taking the score to 26-14 with 10 minutes to play. Scottish started giving away penalties in numbers but Stortford couldn’t capitalise on it and eventually the Scots won the ball back after holding up a maul. From the scrum a great backline move almost put Ben through on the right, quick recycling of the ball and the ball went slickly through the hands for Finn to score just left of the posts. That made it 33-14 with the conversion. With the clock ticking down Scots maintained the pressure in the Stortford 22 before Cameron took a nice line threading between the two centres to score the final try of the day. Max converted and the final whistle was blown with the Scot’s running out 40-14 winners on the day and league winners for the season.
The result rounded off a great season for the boys who play good, attacking rugby backed up with solid defence. They now head off into the summer break and will play touch with the club to keep fit before gathering for Pre-season training in July. Next season we are looking for the boys to push on further and build on what they have achieved this season safe in the knowledge that they have already beaten half the teams in their new division in friendlies this year. If you want to be part of that success drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you involved.