Rugby Union: Exiles descend into extraordinary gloom

London Scottish 15 Bedford 24

BRISTOL MAY think they have the go-ahead to take over London Scottish, but the controversial move could yet be decided in the law courts. A small faction of Scottish diehards were told yesterday to expect an extraordinary general meeting as a prelude to "heavy legal action".

Ken Scobie, a director of the club, summoned his supporters at the Stoop to discuss a situation he describes as a shambles. If Bristol fail to gain promotion from Premiership Two, they want to secure a place in Premiership One by buying the Exiles. According to Scobie, an agreement to that effect has already been signed by Tony Tiarks, the London Scottish chairman. "It has no legal standing because neither the board nor the investors have given their permission," Scobie said. "We have been treated with contempt. We have not received a single piece of financial information for nine months."

An appeal to loyalists has received pledges of pounds 250,000, which Scobie admitted was a "disappointing response". Last season, the Premiership clubs received pounds 750,000 each from the professional umbrella organisation, but following the withdrawal from Europe, it was cut this year to pounds 400,000.

However, Scobie revealed that if there is peace in our time over Europe and other areas of disagreement, the clubs could expect to receive up to pounds 1m apiece next season. "The trouble is," he said, "we still don't know what the structure will be, though we assume there will be 14 teams in the Premiership."

Scobie feared that even if Bristol went up by right they would cherry- pick from the Scottish squad. On yesterday's evidence, there is not much fruit on the tree. In fact, none of the statistics were encouraging for Scobie. First, there were no more than 30 supporters at his meeting and the attendance for this basement encounter with Bedford was 1,273. The final indignity was that the Exiles, leading 15-14 at the end of 80 minutes, conceded 10 points in injury time.

London Scottish gave one of their worst performances to lose at Bedford at the start of the season; this was their second worst. In between a brilliant try by Jan Bonney in the 15th minute and another from Mick Watson in the 62nd, there were countless errors and infringements. Even when Bedford had James Cockle in the sin bin for applying unnecessary muscle, the Exiles failed to take advantage.

Bedford were scarcely better but they led 8-5 at half time following a try from Jason Forster and a penalty from Tony Yapp. The stand-off increased their lead midway through the second half with a second penalty before 10 points in four minutes - Watson's try, superbly created by Derrick Lee and Kenny Milligan, a conversion and penalty by Jannie de Beer - put Scottish 15-11 ahead.

However, with 10 minutes to go, Bedford delivered what Frank Warren would describe as a sucker punch. After kicking ahead Scott Stewart ran into Milligan but went down as if he'd been hit by heavyweight champion and Yapp's resultant penalty was not only hotly disputed in conception, but also execution. One touch judge raised his flag, the other didn't but the referee allowed it.

Scottish still led 15-14 but worse was to follow. In front of his own posts, Watson conceded a penalty and Yapp's kick regained the lead for Bedford, for whom Rory Underwood then scored under the posts.

London Scottish: S Binns; K Milligan, J Bonney, R Davies (D Lee, 60), C Sharman; J De Beer, G Easterby (S Cook, 77); P Johnstone, D Rudham (D Cummins, 67), P Burnell, E Jones, M Watson, S Fenn, R Hunter, S Holmes (capt).

Bedford: S Stewart; B Whetstone, A Murdoch (capt, R Underwood, 77), D Harris, D O'Mahony; T Yapp, C Harrison; A Olver, J Richards, T Boyd (A Ozdemir, 54), A Codling (D Zaltzman, 67), S Murray, R Winters, J Paramore (J Cockle, 43), J Forster.

Referee: R Goodliffe (Yorkshire).

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