London Scottish edged out as Bristol fight back to claim British & Irish Cup victory

London Scottish director of rugby Mike Friday admitted his side paid the price for being on the wrong side of decisions as they suffered a narrow 22-18 defeat in the British & Irish Cup.

Tries from winger Miles Mantella and prop Adam Kwasnicki were not enough as the visitors took advantage of a yellow card decision in the second half to stage a comeback win.

Despite consistent lineouts from the Exiles and a strong kicking game from full-back Peter Lydon, scrum decisions in particular appeared to be a lottery.

And Friday admitted that only fuelled his frustration about the result.

“We are hugely disappointed,” he said.

“If the officials come in and make those decisions then fine, they are there to do what they need to do, but they must get those decisions right and we paid the price for that yellow card as Bristol went on to score points and win the game.”

Bagpipes began and finished what can only be described as a gutting consecutive loss for London Scottish in the competition. Top of the group Bristol continued their recent form as fly-half Mark Cooke threaded two early penalties.

Early on Irish referee Sean Gallagher laid down the law to the front row for collapsing scrums but his stop start decisions frustrated both benches and the 1,608 people who attended.

A penalty awarded – from what became a traditional collapsed scrum – allowed Scottish to kick downfield and take advantage of their position inside Bristol’s 22.

The lineout allowed Scottish to switch play across the field and Mantella dodged his way through the Bristol defence to score in his 51st appearance.

“It was a nice little accolade but to be honest I would rather have had the win,” he said.

“We thought we had a real chance and we didn’t really put our game on the park which was disappointing.”

“We should have taken a grip of the game. It was a frustrating game for both sides and neither team were helped by the officiating at scrum time and it made for a disjointed game.” – Mike Friday

The first half finished with a dramatic try from Scottish as Bristol’s back row Nick Best was yellow carded for not releasing the ball.

The home side converted from the lineout with Kwasnicki eventually awarded the five points after Gallagher discussed his decision with the touch judge, both players and captains. Lydon missed the conversion but Scottish went into the tunnel 12-9 ahead.

An exciting beginning to the second half saw Scottish extend their lead to 18-9 by scoring two penalties in quick succession – one from beyond the halfway line by man of the match Lydon.

He said: “I like the long range ones, we just needed one or two more and we would have had them.”

But momentum swung back in favour of the visitors as they took advantage of a yellow card decision to send off Scottish back-row James Phillips and Luke Eves broke the home side’s defence to take the lead 19-18.

Despite substitutions from both teams, Andy Robinson’s side secured their victory with a final penalty in the 73rd minute, Cooke kicking between the posts for the sixth time.

London Scottish currently lie third in their pool and will continue their campaign in the British & Irish Cup against Connaught Eagles at Sportsground on October 25th.

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