London Scottish 21, London Welsh 32
London Welsh booked their place in the Greene King IPA Championship play-offs with a powerful second-half display to take the spoils in the battle of the Exiles yesterday.
Welsh trailed London Scottish 14-12 at the break – with fly half Alex Davies in the sin-bin – but re-emerged a team transformed to dominate the second half.
Dan Browne crossed for a converted try and Davies returned to the fray to add two penalties.
Lee Millar’s excellent individual score briefly lifted the home side’s hopes, only for Joe Ajuwa to reply with a typically powerful try to seal the win for Welsh.
Despite three rounds of the regular season remaining, Justin Burnell’s side can now start planning for a two-legged semi-final in May.
Part four in this season’s Scottish-Welsh saga would prove to be the proverbial game of two halves, just as it was when Welsh were victorious at the Richmond Athletic Ground in January in the British & Irish Cup.
The boot of James Love gave Scottish the lead when Welsh were penalised on the floor.
It had been a stuttering start from the visitors, but they drew level through a Davies penalty as his pack gained the upperhand in the scrum.
However, Scottish were looking for the more threatening with ball in hand and although denied by Welsh in the corner, James Love landed a penalty with advantage being played from an earlier offence.
Again Davies brought Welsh back on level terms with a matching three-pointer.
Only some determined last-ditch defence prevented Scottish’s Michael Doneghan and then Love from going over, but the pressure had not passed.
Sensing his side possessed a potent weapon in their driving maul, home captain Mark Bright was driven over for a try.
Forced into a hasty drop goal attempt after the ball fell off the tee, Love could not add the extras.
Davies limited the damage when he added his third penalty before being despatched to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock on.
Daniel Newton – taking over the kicking duties from the injured Love – landed the resultant penalty for Scottish.
Just before half-time, Seb Jewell, making his 50th league appearance for Welsh, brought them to within just two points with a penalty.
It was a very different London Welsh side which re-emerged for the second half.
After going through a multitude of phases, Welsh finally found a way through when the tryline suddenly opened up for Browne, the No 8 galloping through a huge hole to force his way over.
Jewell converted, and Davies returned to the action,with Welsh now leading 19-14.
Davies extended the lead further with his fourth and fifth penalties.
Scottish excursions into the Welsh half had been rare.
But a high tackle by Mitch Lees allowed the home side to find field position and a concerted spell of pressure ended with Millar dancing through a gap to go over over the line.
Newton converted and suddenly it was game on again with Welsh’s lead cut to just four.
But within two minutes it was all over.
Welsh worked the ball wide to Ajuwa in space on half way and there was simply no stopping the powerful winger, who added a nice dummy to touch down under the posts.
London Scottish: Thompson, Love (Millar 28), Doneghan (Stuart 53), Gidlow, Mantella, Newton, Pasqualin, Kilbane (Hunter 53), Kwasnicki (Stagg 78), Francis (Thiede 75), Hotson (Spivey 78), Lyons, Best, Everard, Bright (capt). Rep not used: T Spinks.
London Welsh: Jewell (Awcock 64), Stegmann, May (capt), Tincknell, Scott (Ajuwa 66), Davies, Cook, Bristow (Hepburn 59), Morris (Davis 73 , Tideswell (Edwards 19, Bristow 80+4), West, Corker (Nimmo 70), Lees, Denbee, Browne (Stedman 51).
Referee: J Meredith.