London Scottish FC hosted Blackheath FC in the first game of the season in this recently renewed long lost annual fixture that the Exiles played 12 years ago, when both sides where in the same Allied Dunbar League 2 – before Scottish were promoted to the Premiership. London Scottish narrowly lost to a Blackheath side in this National League One meeting at the Richmond Athletic Association ground, where the re-established history between the two sides dates back to their very first game against each other in 1881.
The first game of the season between the two London sides saw a try from London Scottish Sam Harding, converted by Frankie Neale who also made two penalty goals during a match that saw three yellow cards awarded, two of which were to Blackheath.
The scoreboard remained 13-13 for almost the last 30 minutes of the game, where Blackheath FC managed to gain the last points. A late try by a Blackheath replacement gave them the final say of the opening game of the new National League One season, giving Scottish a slight setback to their 2010/11 campaign.
The match was the third meeting of 2010 between the Exiles and Blackheath, each of them were marked by late drama. This weekend’s game even looked to be heading for a repeat of the final London Scottish home game, where a draw marked that last match – also against Blackheath.
The Exiles claimed the first points of the season inside the opening minutes through a penalty from full back Frankie Neale, facing his former club, with the Blackheath outside centre replying in kind shortly afterwards to level the scores.
On the ten minute mark, Scottish should have scored down the left after two well-worked phases of possession that had begun with an enterprising quick tap free kick by flanker Willie Lipp, but left wing Stephen Hitateh couldn't get a clean grasp on the final pass from fellow debutant Sam Harding and knocked on.
Neale then had an opportunity to restore his side's three-point advantage but shanked his penalty kick wide from 15 metres out, and despite Scottish dominating territory, the momentum swung Blackheath's way on the quarter hour.
A jinking run from Blackheath’s right wing put the home defence in disarray, with the ball finding the visiting prop who evaded a series of tackles to touch down for an 8-3 lead. Blackheath’s number 12 Sam Windsor pushed his conversion attempt just wide of the posts.
Blackheath's try stung Scottish into action, where they took the game to their opponents, denying them the chance of amassing further points. Ten minutes later Frankie Neale’s penalty kick reduced the deficit to just two points.
That turned out to be the last score of the first half, although shortly before the interval, Scottish appeared to have taken the lead after right wing Tim Holgate burst through the Blackheath defence following a well-worked move, only for referee Michael Tutty to penalise the hosts for crossing. This ended the first half with a score of London Scottish FC 06 – 08 Blackheath FC.
Following the restart, Blackheath found themselves a man short after flanker Richard Pike was shown the yellow card. A series of attacks by Scottish inside the Blackheath 22 ended in Harding bursting through the visitors' defence to touch down underneath the posts and set up the easiest of conversion chances for Neale, who put Scottish 13-8 ahead.
Things seemed set to go from bad to worse for Blackheath as they were reduced to 13 men, with tighthead prop Desmond Brett sent to the sin bin. As Scottish looked set to press home their advantage, Ian McInroy was caught in possession in midfield. The ball bounced loose for Blackheath to gather and head for the line, for an improbable score in what proved to be the game's turning point.
The inside centre missed the conversion that would have given Blackheath the lead, and minutes later a penalty kick from an identical position similarly drifted wide, once the sides were back to 15 men apiece, the momentum was with the visitors.
Blackheath looked to have scored after their number 11 burst down the left to touch down in the corner, but Holgate had done enough to nudge the winger into touch as he sped down the line.
The home team's respite was short-lived, however, as moments later another move down the left, again involving the Blackheath winger, resulted in the replacement number 20 getting the winning score. This time around the visiting outside centre put his kick between the uprights, for a final score of 20-13.
This weekend London Scottish FC play host to the newly promoted Barking RUFC, kick off at 3pm.
Tries: H Allen, S Windsor, S Moan; Conversion S Windsor; Penalty: S Windsor
LONDON SCOTTISH LINEUP
Ranson, Stephenson, Windsor. R, Windsor. S, Lewis, Vaughan, Walsh, Winwood, Allen, Brett, Bason, Dewale, Pike, Allen (Replacements: Legg, Knight, Paddick, Ibrahim, Moan)