Geordie all-stars stroll on

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The Independent Online
London Scottish 15

Newcastle 39

The men with the money and the muscle from the North powered through to the quarter-final of the Pilkington Cup with a display to send a warning to grander sides unlucky enough to meet them in the next round.

Newcastle gave a convincing show of utterly professional commitment that left a game London Scottish side floundering. The all-stars acquired by the Geordie entrepreneur Sir John Hall out-classed their rivals in the Second Division of the league. It looked like a game of professionals against amateurs - which, of course, was exactly what it was.

It always was going to be a struggle for Scottish against the Newcastle forward heavyweights, with Nick Popplewell the lynchpin in the tight and Garath Archer and Doddie Weir bolstering the effort behind him. They dominated play throughout, letting the back-row punch forward with No.8 Dean Ryan often standing off the maul to power on to the ball.

It made for predictable, well-drilled forward tries: true, Rob Andrew got the first but only after the Newcastle pack had battered forward near the Scottish line before releasing the ball to the former England outside- half, well-placed out wide. After that, Archer, the big English second- row, was equally effective if less elegant when he barged over. Peter Walton, the Scotland flanker, did much the same for the third Newcastle try just before the interval.

Then centre Alan Tait sprinted up the park for Newcastle's fourth, and the Irish loose-head Popplewell outdid him by sprinting just as far - and just as fast, apparently - for the fifth. Popplewell got Newcastle's sixth with the game all but over with a more prosaic effort, simply wrestling the ball over. Rob Andrew, on an off-kicking day, converted three and kicked a penalty.

These six hammer blows shattered any Scottish hope of victory, though not quite their spirit. Wisely, they decided to move the ball wide where they could, away from the big forwards, or pump it up to test the full- back Matt Tetlow - in for Tim Stimpson, the England full-back, who was out resting a strain as a precaution.

In yesterday's battle of Scottish enterprise against North Eastern method, sad to say the less flamboyant virtues triumphed. Scottish spent long spells trying to conjure tries but with the trick never quite coming off.

The centre Ed Raynor and the scrum-half David Millard did manage to cross early in each half, but they were token efforts against the run of play. A penalty and a conversion by the outside-half John Steele made the score barely respectable.

At the end of it, Scottish looked like what they are: solid presences in the Second Division up against full-time professionals with ambition and the resources - financial and physical - to realise it. Perhaps at Twickenham in the Pilkington Cup final.

London Scottish: N Robinson; G Smith, E Raynor, R Eriksson, T Watson; J Steele, D Millard; P Johnston, I McKenzie, P Burnell, M Kirk, E Jones, P Jankovich, C Tarbuck, S Holmes (capt).

Newcastle: M Tetlow; J Bentley, A Tait, G Childs, T Underwood (M Shaw, 31); R Andrew, G Armstrong; N Popplewell, R Nesdale, G Graham (P Van Zandvliet, 41), G Archer, G Weir, P Walton, D Ryan (capt), S O'Neill.

Referee: S Piercy.(Yorkshire)

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