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London Scottish v Esher Match Preview

London Scottish v Esher Match Preview

So it all comes down to the final game of the season to determine the future of London Scottish in the Championship for the 2011/12 season.

So it all comes down to the final game of the season to determine the future of London Scottish in the Championship for the 2011/12 season.

With Esher gaining a bonus point win in their last home game against Plymouth and Scottish a losing bonus point in their loss away at Moseley this leaves a five point gap between the sides.

MPU

As matches go it can be confidently stated that Saturday’s will be the most important game in the long and illustrious history of the London Scottish club, and their climb back up the leagues. For a derby match, this one must have the most riding on it, rather than the normal local bragging rights. Saturday will see the latest instalment of matches played between the two teams; this being the sixth of the season and with a bumper crowd anticipated the atmosphere at the game should be at fever pitch as the action kicks off.

Esher's season has been a series of ups and downs, with the emphasis mostly on the down side. Apart from a late revival at the end of the regular season, the Surrey side have been looking down the barrel of a disappointing season. Even as the play offs started the team suffered further, losing their first four games in the playoff series of games. One should also not lose sight of their ability to consistently bounce back when all appeared lost. Last Saturday, Esher recorded their highest victory of the season when they comprehensively defeated Plymouth Albion 42 – 17.This score was virtually identically to Esher's other heavy victory this season when they recorded a 41 – 17 win against the same side in their final home game of the regular season. How much this latest score was a reflection of the Devon side already having secured their Championship status the previous weekend, only time will tell?

The Esher cause appeared to have been further dented when their star Canadian International back Phil Mackenzie and leading try scorer was ruled out of the last two games of the season through injury. Fortunately for Esher, the loss of Mackenzie was compensated through the return of their England Sevens and Harlequins dual registered winger Charlie Walker. Walker was only two weeks ago staring in the England Sevens side in the Tokyo international tournament. Head Coach at Esher, Mike Schmid, also rang other changes in the backs last weekend when he gave veteran Fijian international Nicky Little a run out at fly half, with regular fly half Mark Atkinson moving out to inside centre.

For the Scottish team on Saturday the motto must be “they shall not pass”. Every player must tackle their heart out and the players owe it to the loyal supporters who have supported the team all season, both at home and away games. The passion to succeed and achieve the all important victory in this final game of the season must be delivered by the players.

With the crowd on Saturday being the largest of the season all Scottish supporters should be aware of the fact that Richmond will be playing at home preceding our game with a 12.30 kick off. Therefore supporters will only be allowed into the ground at around 2.15, so make sure you get down to the ground and cheer on Scottish to victory.

See you all there – C'mon the Scottish.
 

A large crowd is expected at the Athletic Ground. Fans are strongly recommended to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long queues at the Ticket Desk. Purchase your tickets online for collection today – click here.

Mission Accomplished – Championship Status Retained

Support Your Scottish - Season Ticket Prices Are FROZEN For 2012/13

In a pulsating end-to-end match played in front of a crowd of over 2000, London Scottish achieved their objective in securing a place in the 2012/2013 Championship season, by obtaining two bonus points in their 26 - 31 loss to Esher. Full credit to Esher, who gave it their all and scored five tries, but was ultimately not enough at the end of the day. In a game reminiscent of the end of last season, once the match official blew his whistle there were scenes of wild celebration on the pitch.

In a pulsating end-to-end match played in front of a crowd of over 2000, London Scottish achieved their objective in securing a place in the 2012/2013 Championship season, by obtaining two bonus points in their 26 – 31 loss to Esher. Full credit to Esher, who gave it their all and scored five tries, but was ultimately not enough at the end of the day. In a game reminiscent of the end of last season, once the match official blew his whistle there were scenes of wild celebration on the pitch.

The kick off to the match was delayed by five minutes to allow the significant number of supporters entering the ground for safety reasons. This was due to the double header being played at the Richmond Athletic Ground and the limited time there was available to clear the Richmond supporters and allowing the much greater number of Scottish and Esher supporters into the ground.

MPU

On a bright and sunny day Scottish played towards the park end of the ground and Esher kicked off with a slight breeze behind their backs. In the opening phases of the game it was clear that the visitors were intent on throwing the ball wide. On the 2nd minute the Esher scrum was penalised for collapsing a scrum inside the Scottish 22 metre area after they had knocked on at a line out. Immediately after this play, the Esher pack was penalised for deliberately pulling down a rolling maul and Scottish opted to kick into the Surrey side’s 22 metre area. At the lineout, Scottish lost possession and the Esher backs ran the ball from deep. An excellent sequence of passes by their backs saw Esher work the ball out wide, eventually to full back Luke Daniels, who was on an overlap touching down 15 metres in from the touch flag. Flanker Peter Synnott converted to put the away side 0 – 7 ahead.

For the next 15 minutes or so the play was evenly matched, however Scottish were beginning to dominate in the forwards. This dominance paid dividends when after a sustained period of pressure close to the Esher try line by the Scottish forwards, the ball was quickly moved out to the Scottish fly half Dan Mugford who cut through the Esher back line, slipping through a missed tackle to touch down beneath the posts. Mugford converted to leave the scores all square at 7 -7. 
The Esher side was now clearly trying to force the game, and in one move, winger Seb Stegmann knocked on when he had an opportunity to break through the Scottish defence.  On the 27th minute there was a case of some “Argy bargy” as the great late Bill McClaren would have described it. As Scottish kicked to the corner, they were prevented from taking a quick lineout in the Esher 22 metre area, 5 metres short of the visitors try line when one of the Esher players deliberately threw the ball into the crowd. At the resultant melee, Scottish were penalised by the match officials for retaliation allowing the visitors to clear their lines.

Scottish took the lead on the half hour mark after a series of rolling mauls, pickups and drives by the Scottish forwards close to the Esher try line. The ball was eventually moved out to full back Stuart Peel on an overlap out wide and he dived over to touch down. Mugford missed the conversion attempt, but it left Scottish 12 – 7 ahead.  Esher were constantly looking to move the ball out to their very good backs, and on the 34th minute the ball was eventually passed to England Sevens winger Charlie Walker who put on the after burners and scored 15 metres in from the touch line.  Synnott converted to put the visitors 12 – 14 ahead.  Esher scored their third try of the match on the 38th minute of the game, when after being awarded a penalty, the Esher hooker Stuart Mackie took a quick tap penalty and touched down to the left of the posts. Fly half Nicky Little converted to put the Surrey side ahead 12 -21 at the half time break.

On the 42nd minute, Little was penalised for tackling a player without using his arms. Rather than take the points, Scottish opted to kick to the corner for a line out. From the line out, Scottish retained possession and the forwards took the play close to the Esher try line and after a series of rucks, prop Alex Clarke was driven over by his fellow forwards.  Mugford converted to leave the score 19 – 21. 
On the 56th minute Esher scored their fourth and bonus point try when, after a series of good interplay between their backs and forwards, flanker Sam Stitcher scored out wide 3 metres in from the touchline. Synnott missed with his conversion attempt to put the visitors 19 – 26 ahead.  At this point in the game the Esher supporters in the crowd began to believe the impossible, however Scottish were still in possession of a losing bonus point.

Scottish began to press the Esher side into their own half and this pressure finally paid off on the 66th minute when the away side were attempting to run the ball out of their half of the pitch. The ball was passed to Little who attempted to move the ball to inside centre Mark Atkinson. However, centre Charlie Hayter, anticipating the pass, intercepted the ball and raced away to score to the left of the posts. After touching down, Hayter was engulfed by the whole of the Scottish team and replacements who were limbering up in the opposite corner of the dead ball area. Mugford converted to leave the scores all square at 26 -26. 
This fourth try confirmed Scottish’s status in the Championship for next season. Far from caving in, Esher continued to play good backs play and it was not surprising that on the 79th minute Walker touched down out wide after a series of excellent moves.  Atkinson missed the conversion attempt and shortly after, the match official blew the final whistle. There followed tremendous scenes of celebration by the team on the pitch.

So another chapter in the long and illustrious history of London Scottish comes to an end with the conclusion of this match. The club has retained its status in the Championship and unlike last season the club has an additional month to prepare for next season's Championship campaign. To all supporters who have supported the team throughout this season’s ups and downs, many thanks.

Signing off for a well deserved summer break and look forward to bringing you the action next season.  Enjoy the break.

Dan Mugford was awarded the FirstCape Man of the Match award.

 

 

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