‘Expanding’ Exiles aiming for back to back success
LONDON Scottish No.8 Joe Atkinson has spoken about getting back-to-back home wins for the first time this season in the derby with ground-sharers Richmond.
The clubs have won two of their past three league fixtures and Atkinson believes the Exiles have turned a corner and their expansive play will give them a good chance of retaining the Bill and Temple Quaich, awarded to the winning side since the 1890s.
Atkinson, 26, an everpresent for Scottish this season, grabbed two tries a fortnight ago in their 32-26 win against Pirates before last week’s away win over bottom-placed Rotherham.
He said: “We were narrowly losing out on games which we could have won. The boys could have easily let their heads drop but we kept training hard and now you can see with those wins that some of our hard work is paying off and our link-play is getting more expansive.
“The squad is bouncing at the moment, it’s derby weekend. We’re looking forward to the atmosphere at the Richmond Athletic Ground and we want to put in a good performance for the supporters and keep climbing the table.”
There are four changes from last week, including returning Namibian international Tjiuee Uanivi in the second row, with Ed Milne, who came back from a hand-injury last week moving to blindside. Playmaker Charlie Ingall, No. 9 Ed Hoadley and prop Phil Cringle are also back in.
Scottish coach Dave Morris has juggled 23 new players this season alongside a new back-room set-up as the Exiles mix full and part-timers. He told
TRP the steep learning curve was shown in their last away defeat to Jersey.
He said: “In Jersey, both our first and second teams lost and it was a pretty gruelling weekend with a lot of injuries but the amount of time we spent together as a group has brought us a lot closer together.
“The Highlanders flew out at 7am but the way everyone dug in was crucial. When you don’t get confidence from winning, you have to take it from something else.”
Richmond give fly-half James Swan his league debut and coach Steve Hill, said: “We’ve had a good week of training and preparation and will need to play much better than we did we did against Pirates, where our discipline let us down.”