SOUTH WEST LONDON CHARGERS 46 SCOTLAND CLUB XIII 18
At London Skolars, Perth Road, Wood Green.
Scotland Club XIII played their fifth game of the summer and fell to their first defeat at the hands of the national tier four champions, South West London. In a game staged as part of the Friday Night Lights event at London Skolars, Scotland’s preparations were hampered by a series of injuries incurred the previous weekend in the win over an Army side and several players returning to their semi-professional rugby union teams. With most of the team having flown down from Aberdeen that morning, finding the team kit mislaid by the airline and being delivered after the final whistle did not help either. Kick-off was delayed while the Scots borrowed Skolars’ green and gold change kit.
Against a team who have won the London regional title for the second successive year and are about to defend their Harry Jepson Trophy, the Scots were up against it from the start, not helped by playing up the Perth Road slope. They conceded three tries in seven minutes to trail 18-0 after just 16 minutes before steadying the ship defensively but were unable to find any cohesion in attack.
Their best opening came when loose forward Johnny Grey made a terrific break up the hill and found David Spivey – from Linlithgow but learned the game in Halifax – on the right but momentum was lost at a ragged play the ball. The Chargers recovered and scored on the right, Craig Kruger touching down and half-back Phil Lyon converting. Next time Scotland were in a promising position, five minutes before the break, scrum-half Fraser McKay knocked on but three minutes later made up for that error by combining superbly with half-back partner Jamie Laing before scoring the try of the half himself to the left of the posts.
In a frantic last few minutes of the half, the Chargers scored again down the left from restart and the Scots responded with a fabulous bit of skill by Easterhouse forward Iain Allen, passing the ball through his legs for teenage winger Fionn O’Donnell to fly over the line on the left touchline. Laing was unable to convert either try, the Chargers leading 26-8 at half-time.
The second half started well for the Scots, dominating possession down the slope but unable to convert it into points. Any threat of rescuing the game went on 54 minute when London intercepted a Scottish attack five metres from their own line. O’Donnell and Harvey did well to catch the breakaway but the Chargers swung the ball to the opposite flank to score later in the set.
While Scottish exiles Mike Benson (former Scotland (s and A team international) and his London Skolars team-mate Harvey Burnett (a full international), and Edinburgh forward Colin Jarvis put in excellent defensive efforts, just like the first half, the Scots became disjointed in attack and defence, conceding three more tries, centre Matt Dudley scoring on the left and Lyon converting the third.
Craig Parslow’s side finished on a high with late tries for McKay, finishing off a neat move on the right, and Laing in the last minute, the latter hitting the post with his first conversion attempt and making the second. It was only McKay’s fifth game of rugby league, while Aberdeen Warriors duo O’Donnell and prop Craig Strachan are only 17 and 16 respectively, showing the use of these games to help develop young talent.
Kyle Mathieson, Dan Retter. David Spivey (All Aberdeen Warriors), Harvey Burnett (London Skolars), Fionn O’Donnell (Aberdeen Warriors), Jamie Laing (Army), Fraser McKay (Strathmore), Craig Strachan, JJ McNair (Both Aberdeen Warriors), Colin Jarvis (Edinburgh Eagles), Iain Allen (Easterhouse), Mike Benson (Skolars), Johnny Gray (Aberdeen Warriors). Subs used: Jordan Marshall, Carwyn Walker (Aberdeen Warriors), Tee-Jay Farrell (Wests Warriors). Unused: Ray Festorazzi (Ayrshire Storm).
Scotland scorers: tries McKay 35, 75; O’Donnell 39; Laing 80. Goals: Laing 1/4.
Man of the Match: Colin Jarvis
Full time: 46-18
Referee: Alan Dobson (Holloway).