Skolars search for that illusive home win

After a standout performance against Gloucestershire All Golds last weekend, the London Skolars will be looking to achieve two firsts for the season- their first home win and their first back to back wins against fellow southern club Oxford RLFC. Oxford meanwhile will be attempting to overturn a run of patchy form.

Oxford find themselves currently sitting at 11th in the table, accumulating five wins in the process against teams situated within close proximity not only in the table but geographically. Their last outing was coincidentally at the Prince of Wales stadium after the Skolars victory against the Barrow Raiders, where they competed admirably and were narrowly defeated 34-22, a definite sign of progress and redemption somewhat after their embarrassing defeat to Swinton Lions which ended 96-4 . With the 8’s separating and beginning soon it will be interesting to see their squad, as they have had strong support from Bradford Bulls this year, as well as regularly seeing London Bronco’s Sean Morris don the navy shirt.

Skolars will come into this game buoyed by the dominant result they put on last weekend wanting to continue the form displayed against the All Golds. What underlined the impressive performance was the lack of errors and penalties that has been symptomatic of the side this season. The whole team were running with incredible aggression and determination, even the wingers were incredibly hard to scythe down. However it was the performances of Will Lovell and Lamont Bryan that were particularly dominant, these are two of the most formidable back row’s in the competition. The issue for the side this year however has been backing up competitive performances the following week and that will be the major factor focus in the build up to this weekend. With no Bronco’s home game this weekend, we hope to see a bumper crowd down at New River this Sunday 3pm to support the players and cheer them to their first home win in over 11 months.

Tickets on the gate are £12 adult & £6 concessions. Once again Caveman Brewery will be the real ale provider.

Saturday 25th July saw London Skolars host their first ever Primary RL Festival in partnership with Metro Bank. We hosted 16 different teams from across London, who all took part in some fantastic games of rugby as the morning played out.

One of the key objectives of Primary RL and ourselves here at London Skolars is to increase participation in our great sport and to get our youngest players playing and involved for the maximum amount of time we can. The Festival most definitely did that, every single player who came along to New River yesterday would have had plenty of game time, and it was particular pleasing to see clubs share players and to see them give their all, no matter what colour jersey they were wearing.

Whilst it was fantastic to see the colourful jerseys on show representing the majority of the London RL clubs, from a Skolars point of view it was extremely satisfying to see the largest contingent of players wearing the Red and Black of London Skolars. We fielded teams at U7, U9 and 2 full teams at U11 which was a great achievement, and is a testament to the hard-work of all our volunteer coaches, parents and development staff. The players had a great time and really looked like they enjoyed their rugby, they have plenty of sessions to go until they hopefully one day walk out for the 1st team here at London Skolars, so what’s important is that they continue to enjoy their rugby, improve their skills and ultimately keep playing with a smile on their face.

On top of the usual Mini’s teams, we also welcomed U12’s to the Festival. The U12’s age group is a hugely important development age for London RL and really does bridge that gap between Primary RL and Junior games. Teams from Hemel, Brentwood, Invicta, Surrey and Medway all took part in what was a really great tournament, and there was some really fantastic rugby on show on the top field.

A-side from the wonderful rugby on show, there was plenty to do on the morning, with a Bouncy Castle, Ice-Cream Van, a team from Metro Bank handing out freebies and the local Haringey Fire Service, who brought along their Fire Engine which the youngest members of the Festival really found exciting. Players and parents were kept fed and watered by our BBQ and sweet stall which was run by our excellent team of Skolars friends and parents.

The day was a fantastic success, and in London Skolars 20th Year it was fantastic to see the way in which the club has developed, we thank all our sponsors who made the day possible, Harneys, Lanes Coaches, Mako, Metro Bank, Spryou & Co, Ipreo, Paul Simon Group and EDI. Also our parents and volunteers who ensured that the whole day ran smoothly. The next big event for ourselves will be Friday Night Lights on Friday 28th August 2015, tickets are available on the Skolars website and are priced from £10 in advance.

Though a home win has yet eluded them, Skolars will go into the game against Oxford next week with confidence after a comfortable win at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Both sides made errors in the early stages, but Skolars were the first to score, with Jermaine Coleman’s pass to Lamont Bryan opening a gap for the loose forward, before he offloaded for Mike Bishay to score under the posts.

Bryan went over from close range ten minutes later after a James Anthony kick had forced a goal-line drop out. Skolars’ forwards dominated the game with Lewis Reed and Will Martin often forcing the All-Golds backwards.

Lee Mapals made a diagonal run to the line and looked sure to score, but Chris Bishay’s tackle forced the ball out and Skolars went in 12-0 up at half-time.

Skolars went for a penalty kick for goal early in the second half. With Mike Bishay off the field, brother Chris took over the kicking duties, but put the ball under the crossbar.

They extended their lead soon after when a James Anthony kick produced an error from the home side and Billy Driver took advantage to score. Jermaine Coleman took over the kicking duties, but he missed a difficult kick from the left side.

After Skolars had forced another All-Golds error, they passed the ball to the right from the scrum for Sam Nash to stride over for his first try for the club.

The home side finally scored through Edwin Okanga, but Skolars re-asserted themselves with a penalty kick when Mike Bishay was back on the field.

Lamont Bryan made another strong run for his second try before Mapals pulled a try back for the home side.

It was Skolars who had the final say, with Chris Bishay linking into the attack to touchdown as Skolars won their third away game of the season.

All-Golds

7 Matt Bradley

31 Lee Mapals

6 Toby Topham

32 Edwin Okanga

28 Ryan Pywell

1 Phil Cowburn

30 Jamie Murphy

8 Olly Purslow

9 Steve Parry

34 Alex Davidson

3 Lewis Reece

4 Callum Mulkeen

33 Graham O’Keefe

 

Subs (all used)

27 Danny Fallon

35 Dan Poulton

13 Chris Vitalini

10 Izaak Duffy

 

Tries: Okanga (65), Mapals (76)

Goals: Bradley 1/2

 

London Skolars

1 Chris Bishay

2 Sam Nash

3 Matt Cook

4 Joe Price

5 Jamel Chisholm

6 James Anthony

7 Jermaine Coleman

8 Will Martin

9 Mike Bishay

10 Dave Williams

11 Kazeem Faturoti

12 Will Lovell

13 Lamont Bryan

 

Subs

15 Billy Driver

24 Lewis Reed

16 Anthony Cox

17 Aaron Small

 

Tries: M Bishay (14), Bryan (24,73), Driver (48), Nash (59) C Bishay (76)

Goals: M Bishay 5/6, C Bishay 0/1, Coleman 0/1

 

Penalty count: 8-7

Half –time: 0-12

Referee: Adam Gill

 

Scoring sequence: 0-6, 0-12, 0-16, 0-20, 4-20, 4-22, 4-28, 10-28, 10-34

As the regular London Junior League Season drew to a close, it was fantastic that for the 1st time in Skolars Junior’s history all 3 teams would progress into the play-off rounds of the competition.

Our U13’s finished the season 3rd and would face a trip to Southern counterparts Ruitlish Raiders, whilst our U17’s finished 6th and would take the long trip to long standing rivals Elmbridge Eagles, the side that has caused them the most heartbreak in knockout games in recent years. Our U15’s were gifted a week off, as they finished top of their League and were crowned Champions the previous week.

With both teams facing long journeys South of the River it was an early start on Saturday morning from New River for coaches and players alike. The U13’s travelled to Ruitlish Raiders, who have had an impressive opening season, reaching the cup final and finishing 3rd in what was a strong Southern league. Even though the U12’s were missing a few key players and coaches, Head Coach Paul Quill and his assistant Adrian Fraine were quietly confident of providing an upset. The U13’s had been slowly building as the season progressed and with some really positive results in the last few weeks, went into this game full of confidence. However as the game kicked off it seemed that the long journey was still in the boy’s heads and they started the game sluggish and making uncharacteristic mistakes, this allowed the Raiders to strike first and go ahead.

Some wise words from Coach Quill geared the boys into a better mind-set and they began to exert some real pressure on Ruitlish, with some great play from Hooker by Thomas Quill, the Skolars forwards began to make some great yards and some excellent back play resulted in them going into half-time with the lead.

The second-half was very much like the first, with some excellent play by both sides. Raiders regathered the kick off and from this ensuing set crossed the Skolars line to bring the game equal again. The game turned into a real battle and as soon as Skolars scored, Ruitlish would hit back eventually crossing for the games decisive try after some silly penalties from the Skolars forwards. A final late assault couldn’t bring the Skolars any joy and as the final whistle sounded with the scoreline at 22-20 it was the Raiders players who would celebrate as they progressed into the Semi-Finals of the Play-offs.

It’s been a fantastic season for this young side and with the majority being U12, they will have another year under Coach Quill’s guidance and I’m sure we will see them go one better next year and reach that Grand Final.

The U17’s meanwhile travelled to rivals Elmbridge Eagles, looking to avenge the heavy league defeat they suffered in Kent earlier in the season. Having lost out to Elmbridge in last year’s cup and play-offs the Skolars were well aware of the threat posed by the Eagles. However with some off-field events seeming to have galvanised the boys from North London, they set about producing one of their best performances of the season, blowing Elmbridge out of the water with some sensational Rugby League. Standout performances from Alex Pentecost and captain Rodell Reid, saw the Skolars home 38-18.

This was another huge result for our U17’s age group and was their first ever victory of Elmbridge. Coaches Matt Cuss, Fred Pentecost and Pete Hamer will hope to welcome back some influential players next week for the Play-off Semi-Final, which sees the Skolars travel to Medway Park, to take on the league winners Medway Dragons. If the previous league encounter is anything to go by then this game should be an absolute thriller, and the Skolars are under no illusion that they will be at their very best to reach their first Grand Final since the U19’s managed it in 2013.

Our U15’s welcome Elmbridge Eagles to New River on Saturday in the Semi-final of the play-off, as league leaders they have had a fantastic season, but they will need to overcome a notoriously strong opponent if they are too make that elusive Grand Final on 25th July.

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