A young U23 team from London Scottish was on the road in an annual midweek fixture against the Royal Navy on Wednesday 25th October down at the United Services Sports Ground in Portsmouth.
The Rampant Lions have recorded wins in the previous two tussles between the sides, but this year the Navy proved resilient enough to get the win over the Scots.
The conditions were firm under foot with no rain which allowed for a decent game of rugby. Within five minutes the Scots were in striking distance and a well organised lineout drive gave hooker Liam Kent-Jordan the first try of the game. A good start, however, the navy capitalised through penalties after eight and fifteen minutes thus taking the lead 6-5.
Scottish’s lineout was functioning pretty well while the Navy struggled to their jumpers at times. The Scots did not force enough lineouts, missing an opportunity to put the Navy under pressure on their own ball. Illuminating a slight lack of game management and experience, something to be expected from such a young side.
However, twenty minutes into the game, Scottish had another drive from the lineout and went over for their second try. Again the conversion was missed but they had regained the lead, 6-10.
A lapse in concentration directly after scoring their try and taking the lead, meant Scottish fell to one of the classic rugby clichés. They had switched off after scoring a try. The U23 side failed to gather possession from the restart gifting the ball to the Navy. This gave the servicemen an attacking lineout ten metres from the line. An opportunity the Navy snapped up. From the drive, the ball was spun wide to the winger, who was unmarked in the corner. The navy had instantly wrestled the lead back to 13-10, including the conversion.
The Navy lads now had their tails up and carried on with confidence. Scottish transgressed through a high tackle and the hosts took 3 points, stretching the lead to 16-10.
Just before half time, Scottish went over the whitewash through loose forward Miles Wakeling, in exactly the same fashion as the previous two tries making the half time score 16-15 to the Navy.
The second half started with the Navy giving away a penalty in kicking distance. Ian Stewart converted for an early second half lead, 18-16.
A simple missed tackle from Scottish gave the Navy a converted try that could have been easily prevented.
Leading 23-18 the Navy were being let off by the U23 team who were not taking some of their chances. Pressure was being applied onto the young Scottish lads and in the last few minutes Scottish were forced to play with more ball in hand. Again, this pressure seemed to be self-inflicted and could have been relieved with some better kicking and more astute game management.
However, it was not the Rampant Lions night and after a strong defensive effort, the Navy put the nail in the coffin with another penalty and secured the 26-18 win. Their first victory over Scottish U23s in the last few years.
This game had tonnes of positives, including the effort and attitude from the players! The driving maul was on ferocious form and drove the servicemen back, but we also highlighted some inexperience which will only develop as the players gain more experience and play together more.
A few players played 3 games for the club during these 7/8 days and their commitment is a huge credit to them!
The next profile friendly is against Oxford University in November.
It should consist of more performance squad players from the 1st XV squad, but a good opportunity for young players to put their hands up as well.
After that the annual New Years Eve U21 student game is on the 31st December.
In the mean time the players who represented the Rampant Lions in thus fixture will play for the Highlanders, Thistles and Extra Bs and continue to enjoy their senior rugby here at London Scottish.
Man of the Match: Jared Cardew
Tackle of the Match: Pita Koroi
Rampant Lions: 1. George Shannon 2. Liam Kent Jordan 3. Isaac Koomson 4. Toby Warburton 5. Jared Cardew 6. Miles Wakeling 7. Pita Koroi 8. Alec Corcoran 9. Ben Hanger 10. Ian Stewart 11. Silas Paul Johnson 12. Calum Digby 13. Tyrrel Naleba 14. Alex Garbett 15. Tom Firth
Replacements: Tom Kane, Rashaun Nero, Alex Mitchener, Luca Vettori, David Semu, Oskar White
Written by Corne Du Rand