After an unimpressive early start to the season, London Scottish dusted themselves down and have embarked upon a remarkable roller coaster run of 26 consecutive victories, to set up Saturday’s winner takes all final match of the season at Barking. It is only fitting that the best two teams in the league should be contesting this title decider, which promises to be a cracker. Scottish go into this match singularly focused on winning the game and taking the National League One title.
Barking Rugby Club grew out of the former pupils team called Park Modern Old Boys, who were formed in 1930. In 1974 they were declared no longer an Old Boys club and changed their name to Barking Park RFC, dropping the Park from their name two years later. The club opened their current Goersbrook ground in 1989, which has a reported capacity for 2000 spectators. Their most famous son is the former British and Irish Lions prop Jason Leonard who started his career playing for the club. Jason was noticed by Saracens where he later moved to and eventually held the world record for the most number of international caps, which was only superseded by the Australian internationalist George Gregan in 2005. He however has never forgotten his rugby roots and Jason is the current President of the club.
The current Director of Rugby Alex Codling has been in post since January 2009 when he took over from the previous incumbent Mark Robinson. Alex joined the club during the previous season moving from London Welsh as forwards coach and since taking over as Director of Rugby, he has been blessed by the Midas touch and the club has not looked back since. He achieved a respectable 7th place finish in his first season in charge. The following season 2009/10, Barking won the National League Two South title at a canter, winning it by 13 points from their nearest rivals Rosslyn Park. This season Barking have been a revelation and going into Saturday's match they remain unbeaten, which is a truly remarkable achievement for club by it's own admissions of having limited resources. In the reverse fixture this season, Barking inflicted Scottish's second consecutive defeat at the start of the season, by winning the game 17 – 24.
Barking have a wealth of quality players throughout their squad. Six players were selected for the England Counties squad earlier this year, the most by any club; props Adam Liffchek & Alex MacKenzie, second row Dan Lloyd-Jones, Flanker James Ngan, No 8 James Kellard and winger David Vincent who was called late into the squad. In addition, Barking has a working relation with Saracens and a number of their Academy players including Sam Stanley and Jared Saunders have turned out for the club this season. The leading try scorer for the club is David Vincent, who has 19 touch downs to his name and has been ably supported by his fellow winger Nico Fraser who has chipped in with 12 tries. The leading points kicker at the club is National League Ones leading points scorer Adam Armstrong. The former Blaydon full back has amassed an amazing 273 points this season. One player who will be very familiar to Scottish supporters is their scrum half Matt Heeks, who moved across to Barking last summer. Matt has been a regular in the Barking side this season, but unfortunately Matt will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken thumb in their recent defeat of Blackheath.
So it's all down to the final league fixture of the season to determine the outcome of the league title. This season has certainly had it's up's and down's and no Scottish supporter will forget the opening three loses of the league campaign. All credit to the coaching staff and players who have dug in and turned the fortunes of the team around in such a remarkable fashion and have gone undefeated since the 18th of September last year. Scottish are totally focused in bringing home the win on Saturday and the team and coaching staff fully appreciate the support given by the huge Scottish contingent that will be making the relatively short trip across to Barking. Also, a good number of Scottish supporters are traveling down from Scotland and the North of England and a big thank you for all your efforts in making the game, as everyone cheering and supporting Scottish from the sidelines helps the team.
All Scottish supporters are reminded that there will be public transport disruptions on Saturday, so you will need to plan your journey in advance. The District tube line will not be running to Barking due to engineering works, however the recommended Transport for London route is to take the c2c train from Liverpool Street station (trains diverted from Fenchurch Street) to Barking station and then catch the District tube from Barking to Beacontree which will be running. There will be 6 trains an hour out of Liverpool Street and the estimated total journey time from Liverpool Street to Beacontree is half an hour. At Beacontree tube station you will need to turn right out of the tube station onto Gale Street, walking along this street for approximately half a mile to the ground. Alternatively for those intending to drive you will need to input the post code RM9 4TX into their SatNav, taking you straight to the ground which is just off the A13. Please note that the supporters coaches which will be leaving Richmond at 12.15 are all fully booked.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone wherever you are located who has read the match previews this season and hopefully benefited from the content. Good luck to the team on Saturday and see you all there for one last time this season. Com’on you Scottish.