London Scottish 13 – Hartpury RFC 15

A try in the dying seconds from Mike Wilcox (pictured) saw Hartpury clinch their third Championship win of the season at struggling London Scottish.

In a clash characterised by unforced errors and wasted opportunities, a red card for Scottish replacement Danny Kenny on 67 minutes probably proved the difference in the end, with Hartpury able to exploit the extra space to work an overlap for the full-back to cruise in and snatch the honours.

A great take from Ed Sheldon on the wing proved the catalyst for Hartpury to strike the first blow, but it was Eves who cantered over after being released by centre partner George Boulton. Fly-half Jacob Perry converted.

The visitors had the chance to turn the screw as they won a penalty line-out metres from the Scottish line five minutes later and number eight Darrell Dyer looked to spearhead the drive but it was disrupted for the turnover.

A penalty scrum saw another opportunity lost soon after as Scottish took it against the head, kick-starting a sustained attacking spell for the hosts as they moved the ball quickly and accurately through the phases and along the line.

Centre Ben Mosses and winger Nick Scott both almost found a way through the Hartpury rearguard before fly-half Jake Sharp went agonisingly close, dropping the ball as he reached backwards over the line as he was tackled.

Opportunity after opportunity was wasted though as Scottish showed plenty of ambition but failed to match it with execution; a lovely show and go from Ross Neal proving a case in point as a weak offload stalled the offensive.

Hartpury’s struggle to regain a foothold was not helped by their susceptibility to being outmanoeuvred at the breakdown, and a turnover proved costly as the counter led to a Scottish penalty, popped over by Sharp to cut the gap to 7-3 on the half-hour mark.

A loose Scottish pass then put them under heavy pressure in their 22, with Hartpury pouncing on the loose ball and making hard yards through hooker Will Tanner, flanker Mat Gilbert, lock Rhys Oakley and prop Rupert Harden as they patiently punched holes in the middle.

Oakley and flanker Rob Langley almost made it over as the visitors eventually worked the ball wider and their reward was a Perry penalty on 38 minutes, but a swift Scottish reply through Sharp cut the deficit to 10-6 at half-time.

Scottish started the second half on the front foot with lovely hands opening up the Hartpury defence; Mosses, Sharp and Fraser Lyle all impressing with their offloads before scrum-half Ed Hoadley scrambled over amid a pile-up in the corner. Sharp converted for the hosts to lead 13-10.

Langley saved the day with a great turnover after Scottish winger Rob Stevenson went on a dangerous break and the Hartpury 22 was breached but the visitors then lost the ball forward after a scything break from Eves followed by quick hands from scrum-half Callum Braley set a solid attacking platform.

The visitors launched a fresh surge through Dyer, Sheldon and centre George Boulton but they were again profligate with the penalty opportunity.

Having plundered the ball, Scottish should have made the most of the unexpected booty but although Hoadley and full-back Charlie Ingall both looked odds on to score, they were twice thwarted by unforced errors – an all too frequent feature of this scrappy, somewhat staccato affair.

When Scottish fumbled again, Braley pounced and Hartpury should have made more of the subsequent attack through the lively Boulton and Sheldon but mistakes again meant the move ran aground.

The ball soon after went loose in midfield off Oakley and the Scottish hack through put Hartpury under all sorts of pressure, but as they countered from inside their own 22 with considerable flair, Sheldon was high tackled by Kenny, who was shown a red card on 67 minutes.

Hartpury looked to use their back line to greater effect as the gaps inevitably started to appear; Boulton and replacement James Williams both cutting a swathe into the Scottish 22, but they could not find the final thrust.

Scottish dug deep as the clock ticked down, Stevenson and number eight Matt Eliet almost finding a way through before an impressive scrum in the shadow of the posts reaped a penalty.

The two packs hunkered down again and again as Scottish looked to get a scoring shove on, but Hartpury held on grimly and their stoicism was richly rewarded as Cochrane accelerated out of his own half with the backs finally unleashing some magic and mayhem.

Williams and Sheldon both went within inches of scoring and after Hartpury drew in the defence with the pick and go, they fired the ball out wide to full-back Mike Wilcox in acres of space to score and snatch a crucial victory, albeit at the close of a sub-standard performance.

LONDON SCOTTISH: Ingall, Stevenson, Neal, Mosses, Scott, Sharp (pens 30, 40; con 45), Hoadley (try 44); Harris, Miller, Cringle, Mills (c), Uanivi, Baillie, Atkinson, Eliet. Reps: George, Appiah, Waldren, Gillanders, Kenny, Barton, Lyle.

HARTPURY RFC: Wilcox (try 80), Creed, Boulton, Eves (try 4), Sheldon, Perry (con 5, pen 38), Braley; Murphy, Tanner, Harden, Quinn, Oakley (c), Langley, Gilbert, Dyer. Reps: Walker, Flook, Seville, Dancer, Safe, Cochrane, Williams.

Referee: Greg MacDonald.

Attendance: 956

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