London Scottish have been unlucky in their last two league encounters; despite enjoying the vast majority of possession and territory, they have been unable to close out the game and secure the win.

Welcoming 7th placed Cornish Pirates to the Athletic ground, Scottish were looking forward to getting a bonus point win in front of their home fans.

Cornish managed to grind out a win in the previous round against Hartpury, their fourth win in a row, and were looking to use that as a platform to secure an away win under the Friday night lights in South West London; which would be their first against London Scottish since 2011.

With the temperature hovering around 5 degrees, the wind blowing through the ground, and in front of the largest (and noisiest) crowd so far this season, it was always going to be tricky to put meaningful phases together in the opening minutes, as the players got warmed up and used to the conditions, however the Pirates wasted no time in letting Scottish know that they were here.

The opening minutes were all one-way, the Pirates moved the ball well through the hands across the pitch, and began probing the Scottish defence.

A beautiful kick over the top from the Pirates winger over Charlie Ingall had him clear through, but he was just beaten by the bounce. More phases and more pressure in the 22 eventually forced Scottish to concede a penalty in front of their posts. Cargill duly stepped up and put the Pirates on the scoreboard after 5 minutes, LSFC 0-3 Pirates.

Straight from the re-start, the Pirates came running back at the Scottish defence; massive tackles were going in from Miller, Uanivi and Atkinson, but Scottish got penalised for holding on in the tackle. Cargill added three more points to the scoreboard, LSFC 0-6 Pirates.

Scottish composed themselves, and started their own attack from the re-start, moving the ball through the hands. A brilliant piece of individual skill from Matt Williams got Scottish up to the 22, but there was a knock on. Pirates cleared their lines, but Scottish came racing back. Scottish applied the pressure on Pirates in their own 22, forcing them to concede a penalty. From the ensuing line out, Scottish moved the ball wide through the hands, a quick step from Alex Walker created space for Holland, who dived for the line for the games opening try. LSFC 5-6 Pirates.

From the re-start Scottish came straight back with the ball; clever interplay among the backs got the ball to Neal, who smashed over a couple of defenders, put the grubber kick through to Williams who dived on it to score. In less than three minutes, Scottish had come from 6 points behind to lead 10-6.

Chants of “Pirates” and “Scottish” rang out from the stands, as Pirates got their opportunity to attack again. Lawday danced his way through the Scottish defence, but was brought down illegally just short of the line, for which Uanivi picked up a yellow card. From the following line out, a catch and drive powered over the line. Cheesman in possession of the ball as it was touched down. Cargill added the conversion to make the score, LSFC 10-13 Pirates.

Scottish, though down to 14 men, attacked down both wings, but on the 33rd minute, Cooper read the play and intercepted the ball, running in a try. Cargill added the conversion, which gave Pirates a 10-20 lead.

Scottish didn’t let their heads drop. Milne took every opportunity that came his way to smash over the Pirates defence, and make huge meters over the gain line. Deep in the Pirates half, they were penalised for joining a maul from the side, so Sharp put the ball into touch. Quick ball from the line out to Atkinson, who dived over the line to score. It was a breathless first half, intensely physical from both sides.

Half time: LSFC 15-20 Pirates.

Just four minutes into the second half, Scottish attacked again. Pirates players put their bodies on the line in defence, with some massive hits coming in from Lawday, and Battista. Scottish continued their march towards the try line, and some quick ball from a ruck found Ingall on the wing, who sped past the last defender to score. Sharp added the conversion to give Scottish a 22-20 lead.

The noise from the crowd was deafening in the stands, as both teams went on the attack. From the middle of the park, Mosses stepped the defenders in front of him and made huge meters… the grubber kick past the last defender put him clear through, but he was tripped 1m from the line. After a quick consultation with his assistant, Fergus Kilby sent O’Meara to the sin bin. A line out followed, and a powerful catch and drive from Scottish put Atkinson over the try line for his second of the night. Sharp converted to extend Scottish’s lead to 29-20, on 51 minutes played.

Both teams went on the attack again, but it was Scottish who had the majority of possession. Milne again made huge meters deep in the Pirates half, and could only be stopped by a high tackle. Sharp took the penalty, and added three more points to his haul to make it LSFC 32-20 with only 15 minutes left to play.

Pirates now got their hands on the ball and went through the phases, moving the ball well through the hands, but Scottish were doing well to soak up the pressure. Massive hits from Scottish kept the Pirates from making any meaningful gains in the Scottish half.

Eventually the sustained pressure from Pirates paid off, and Scottish were penalised in the ruck. Cargill again stepped up and added three more points to the scoreboard, LSFC 32-23 Pirates.

In the final ten minutes, with the entire crowd on the edge of their seats, both teams looked to move the ball through the hands. An amazing break from Neal, who beat 5 defenders to get from halfway to the 5m line, was stopped after the final pass went forward. Cornish, with this let-off, attacked themselves, and made huge gains down the wings. In the 79th minute, Christie saw yellow on his own 5m line for a high tackle. Instead of going to the corner, Pirates took the points to secure the losing bonus point.

Full Time: LSFC 32-23 Pirates.

London Scottish: Ingall; Williams; Neal; Mosses (c); Holland; Sharp; A. Walker; Atkinson; C. Walker; Gillanders; Uanivi; Milne; Cringle; Miller; Appiah // Replacements: George; Christie; McQuillan; Marley; Berry; Hoadley; Lyle Tries: Holland; Williams; Atkinson (x2); Ingall Conversions: Sharp (x2) Penalty: Sharp Yellow Cards: Uanivi; Christie

Cornish Pirates: T. May; O’Meara; Laverick; Battista (c); Moyle; Cargill; Day; Lawday; Cheesman; Freeman; Caulfield; Judge; Cowan-Dickie; Keast // Replacements: Walker; Andrew; Fuca; Duncan; Pope; L. May; Coronal Tries: Cheesman; Cooper Conversions: Cargill (x2) Penalties: Cargill (x3); May Yellow Card: O’Meara Referee: Fergus Kirby

Attendance: 1,385 Man of the Match: Joe Atkinson