‘Ex­pand­ing’ Ex­iles aim­ing for back to back suc­cess

The Rugby Paper - - Greene King Ipa Championship - ■ By LUKE JARMYN

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.”

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