Match preview: London Scottish v Newcastle Falcons

Saturday 8 September 2012 – 3.00pm

Richmond Athletic Ground, London

RFU Championship #2

After a four-try win at Bristol on Sunday, the Falcons really arrive in the Championship tomorrow with a visit to the Athletic Ground in Richmond, one of the new grounds for a lot of us, to take on London Scottish.

Once a regular destination for us in the early years of league rugby, we haven’t played Scottish in Richmond since January 1997 or at all since March 1999, when they had a short-lived spell in the Premiership.

That season ended with the exiles and Richmond being incorporated into London Irish and reform in the lower leagues, but Scottish are back towards the top of the pyramid and will no doubt be keen for a scalp this weekend.

Our record away to the exiles is not brilliant, just three wins from nine games, and in our promotion season 1996/97 they gave the Falcons two of our trickier matches, including one in the cup.

In their one professional season in the Premiership, Scottish played their home matches at The Stoop, where we were beaten 27-17 thanks to tries from Guy Easterby, Paul Johnstone, Simon Fenn and Simon Holmes, as well as seven points from Jannie De Beer’s boot. Martin Shaw and Stuart Legg (remember them two?) were the Falcons’ try-scorers.

Falcons at Scottish:

14/01/1984 Club Match                W13-12

11/01/1986 Club Match                L6-21

09/01/1988 Division 2                   L8-13

07/12/1991 Division 2                   L11-16

29/10/1994 Division 2                   L13-24

28/10/1995 Division 2                   L8-28

16/11/1996 Division 2                   W28-12

25/01/1997 Cup R6                       W39-15

13/02/1999 Premiership 1           L17-27 (The Stoop)

While we were beating Bristol on Sunday, Scottish were winning their own season-opener to Rotherham, winger James Love scoring a try and kicking seven penalties in the 26-20 victory. 894 people watched the game at the Athletic Ground, a figure one would expect to be exceeded tomorrow.

I have to say I don’t recognise any of their 22 for that game, except scrum-half Ross Samson, once a Falcons junior.

Samson moved to Richmond in the summer from London Irish, as did Phil Godman, a Scottish international who played a few games for us between 2002 and 2004 after coming through the academy. Since then he has spent several years with Edinburgh before being released this summer.

Dean Richards has sprung a selection surprise by not including Rory Lawson in his matchday 22, I guess we’ll find out from Smithy why. James Hall and Grant Shiells are in the front row with no place for Jon Golding, again we may find out why later. The starting backs are unchanged with Tane Tu’ipulotu not being punished for his howler on the wing last week (he did score a try remember), and Richard Mayhew for Taiasina Tu’ifua is the last starting change:

Falcons: 15 Luke Fielden, 14 Andy Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Chris Pilgrim, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 James Hall, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 James Hudson, 6 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Richard Mayhew.

Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 James Fitzpatrick, 22 Waisea Luveniyali.

Scottish team:

15 Jim Thompson
14 James Love
13 Dave McCall
12 PJ Gidlow
11 Miles Mantella
10 Oli Grove
9 Richard Bolt

1 Alex Clarke
2 Adam Kwasnicki
3 Aaron Liffchak
4 Sam Twomey
5 Tyler Hotson
6 Joe Trayfoot
7 Chevvy Pennycook
8 Mark Bright (c)

Replacements:
16 Mungo Strachan
17 Alex MacKenzie
18 Josh Thomas Brown
19 Ben Lonergan
20 Ross Samson
21 Dan Mugford
22 David Howells

The game tomorrow is apparently approaching a sell-out, if it isn’t already, though Scottish’s website still shows tickets for sale if you want to go. It should be a good game.

(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)

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