Mark Bright’s try two minutes from time, which move him level with teammate Miles Mantella at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship try scoring charts, secured Scottish a narrow 19-15 victory over Bedford Blues at the Athletic Ground this afternoon.
The 35-year-old’s 16th try of the campaign put his side into the lead for the first time in the game and kept Scottish on course for their highest league finish in 15 years with two games of the regular season remaining.
This was far from a classic as both teams struggled to put together any meaningful passages of play and in the end Scottish were simply relieved to get back to winnings ways after defeat last time out against London Welsh.
A quiet start saw both sides guilty of some elementary errors and the anticipated free-flowing game in excellent conditions failed to materialise.
Half chances came and went for each team with the last pass going astray time and again and a kicking game ensued for much of the first half.
Blues skipper James Pritchard gave his side the lead on 37 minutes with a penalty from straight in front after Matt Everard was penalised at the breakdown.
Two minutes later it got better for Bedford as they scored a try right on half-time.
It came after a Scottish attack broke down just inside the Bedford half, winger Pat Tapley hacking the ball up the field before gathering himself and cruising in under the posts.
Pritchard’s simple conversion gave the visitors a 10-0 advantage at the break.
Scottish started the second half with real intent, pounding the Bedford line for long spells and eventually their efforts paid off when Adam Kwasnicki scored from close range after Matt Everard stole a Bedford line-out and powered to within inches of the line.
Millar’s kick made it 10-7 but Bedford hit back almost immediately with outside centre Brendan Burke stepping past his opposite man to crash over for a try.
Pritchard’s conversion was missed but the Blues were 15-7 and two scores ahead once again.
The Scots needed to score next and they did just that.
A trademark driving maul from a line-out ended with replacement scrum-half Sam Stuart scoring at the tail for 15-12.
Millar missed the resulting conversion but it did not prove costly as man of the match Bright fittingly scored the match winning try on 78 minutes.
The number eight picked the ball up at the base of a scrum five metres from Bedford’s line.
He still had plenty to do as he darted towards the line but managed to stretch over for the score.
Millar then kicked the tricky conversion to give Scottish a four point advantage which they never looked like surrendering in the closing minutes.
Listen to coach James Buckland’s post-match interview here.
Former Scotland coach Andy Robinson brings his title chasing Bristol side to the Athletic Ground on Saturday, April 26th.
A big crowd is expected for this game, London Scottish’s final match of the season.
Hospitality is sold out but match tickets can be bought at the gate on the day, online here, or by calling the ticket office, Monday-Friday, 9am-5.30pm on 020 3397 9551.
London Scottish 15, Jim Thompson; 14, Pete Homan; 13, Lee Millar; 12, PJ Gidlow; 11, Miles Mantella; 10, Dan Newton; 9, Robbie Shaw; 1, Jamie Kilbane; 2, Adam Kwasnicki; 3, Tomas Francis; 4, Tyler Hotson; 5, Dave Lyons; 6, Neil Best; 7, Matt Everard; 8, Mark Bright (c).
Used replacements: 22, Dante Mama; 20, Sam Stuart; 21, Andy Reay.
Unused replacements: 16, Tedd Stagg; 17, George Hunter; 18, Lewis Thiede; 19, Tommy Spinks.
Tries: Kwasnicki; Stuart; Bright.
Conversions: Millar (2).
Bedford Blues: 15, James Pritchard ©;14, Pat Tapley; 13, Michael LeBourgeouis; 12, Mark Atkinson; 11, Ollie Dodge; 10, Tony Fenner; 9, Darryl Veenendaal; 1, Darren Fearn; 2, Charlie; 3, Phil Boulton; 4, Paul Tupai; 5, Mike Howard; 6, Don Barrell; 7, Joe Vandermolen; 8, Nick Fenton-Wells.
Used replacements 17, Nico Steenkamp; 18, Ben Cooper; 22, Jake Sharp; 20, Sacha Harding.
Unused replacements 16, TJ Harris; 19, Gregor Gillangers; 21, Harry Peck;
Tries: Tapley, Burke.
Referee Martin Fox
Assistant referees Simon Harding and Lionel Spooner.