Hard times for Nottingham

Nottingham 12 London Scottish 19
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The Independent Online
It was presentation time at Beeston on Saturday, where there were silver salvers for Richard Byrom and Gary Rees. Byrom's award was to acknowledge his record of becoming the first Nottingham player to turn out in 100 Courage league games. For Rees, the former England flanker, the silverware marked his 300th first-team appearance.

The day would only have been complete if the board of management could have awarded a contract to Alan Davies, but that has turned out to be Bristol's privilege. To be candid, this was no contest, for Nottingham are so impoverished these days that Davies, who left in 1991, would hardly recognise his old club. For sure, Nottingham could not afford to re-engage the estimable Davies who oversaw their best years.

"When Alan was in charge and we got some success, we should have built on it," reflected Simon Hodgkinson, "but instead, we were complacent. We didn't recruit as assiduously as we ought to have done. And although there are some youngsters coming through, none of them cover the key positions."

These are still occupied by outside-half Hodgkinson - who scored all Nottingham's points with four penalties - Rees, who organises everything at scrum, ruck and maul, and the ex-Scotland lock Chris Gray.

Their combined contributions were almost sufficient to bring Nottingham victory. But with an outside chance of promotion still very much in their minds, Scottish enjoyed the rub of the green and, notionally at least, could yet reach the First Division.

The game was locked at 12-12 after John Steele had countered Hodkingson's penalties with four of his own. Byrom then put a foot on the touchline to give the Scots a line-out and a decent field position. They ran two kickable penalties and, from the second, Dave Orr-Ewing was driven over at the posts.

Alan Royer crossed for what would have been a try to ensure a draw. But the scrum-half dropped the ball in goal. Not for the only time since Davies left, Nottingham were out of luck.

Nottingham: Penalties Hodgkinson 4. London Scottish: Try Orr-Ewing. Conversion Steele. Penalties Steele 4.

Nottingham: R Byrom; S Reed, N Carroll, R Bygrave, A Smallwood; S Hodgkinson, A Royer; M Freer, M Ireland, M Downey, C Gray (capt), L Jones, M Bradley, G Rees, N Malik.

London Scottish: G Fraser; T Watson (N Robinson, 48), F Harrold, R Eriksson, J Clarke; J Steele, D Millard; D Signorini, L Mair, P Burnell, A Nisbet, D Orr-Ewing, M Duthie, S Holmes (capt), T Jankovich.

Referee: A Rossall (Heswall).

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