London Skolars 52-20 Coventry Bears

Kingstone Press League 1
London Skolars 52 Coventry Bears 20

Skolars lengthened their winning run to five games – a club record since the club entered the professional ranks in 2003.

They enjoyed a long spell of sustained possession early on the back of two penalties and three knock-downs. The Bears held out that pressure, but the Skolars went ahead when Jy-Mel Coleman put up a high swirling ball. Joel James caught the ball, but full-back Alex Walker timed his run to perfection to pluck the ball out of his opposite number’s grasp for the first try.

Coventry levelled the scores when Craig Barratt took advantage of Jy-Mel Coleman running out from the defensive line for an attempted interception.

With the penalty count against the Bears mounting up, referee Andy Bentham finally lost his patience and Jay Lobwein was sin-binned. That was to take its toll on the Bears later on in the game, but whilst he was off, Skolars only scored one try, Mike Bishay breaking the defence on the right before slipping the ball inside to Jy-Mel Coleman. After Bishay had kicked a penalty, Walker again followed up a spiralling Jy-Mel Coleman bomb to James, who lost control. Walker picked up the ball to give Skolars a 20-6 lead at half-time.

Skolars continued to dominate after the restart. Dave Williams broke through the middle and though he might well have pushed his way over the last defender, he selflessly passed the ball to Erjon Dollapi. Dollapi then crashed through for his second three minutes later. With Coventry reeling, Bishay surprisingly then kicked a penalty after that before Coventry scored their second try through Richie Hughes, who had missed most of the first half after taking a knock early on.

Papua New Guinean international Israel Eliab broke down the right wing, after a quick play-the-ball putting the Bears on the backfoot, releasing John Paxton to score. Bishay added a try after Sam Druce had been held up, but then Coventry scored two late tries. Matt Reid followed up a Craig White before offloading to Grant Beecham, then Charlie O’Mara finished off an Eddie Medforth break on the opposite wing.

Skolars had the final word, with Eliab scoring out wide to reach the half century. Bishay’s tenth conversion from 10 attempts saw him finish with 24 points in the match and the celebrations could begin.

1 Alex Anthony
2 Sam Nash
3 Aaron Small
4 Israel Elian
5 John Paxton
6 Jy-Mel Coleman
7 Mike Bishay
8 Michael Sykes
9 Sam Druce
11 Toby Everett
13 Eddie Mbaraga
12 Will Lovell
10 Dave Williams

14 Ben Pointer
19 Erjon Dollapi
23 Ben Gray
16 Joe Price

Tries: Walker (10,40), Coleman (30), Dollapi (44,47), Paxton (61), Bishay (67), Eliab (78)
Goals: Bishay 10/10

1 Joel James
2 Ben Warrilow
3 Eddie Medforth
4 Matt Reid
5 Jason Bass
6 Craig White
7 James Redman
8 James Geurtjens
9 Jay Lobwein
10 Jack Morrison
11 Liam Thompson
12 Chris Barratt
25 Richie Hughes

Subs (all used)
14 Charlie O’Mara
13 Adam Saynor
16 Jono Miliszewski
24 Grant Beecham

Tries: Barratt (16), Hughes (57), Beecham (72), O’Mara (75)
Goals: James 2/2, White 0/2

Penalty count: 14-8

Half-time: 20-6
Referee: Andy Bentham
Attendance: 365

SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 6-6,12-6, 14-6, 20-6, 26-6, 32-6, 34-6, 34-12, 40-12, 46-12, 46-16, 46-20, 52-20

Skolars Coach Jermaine Coleman says his team’s focus will be on continuing their recent run of form starting fast out of the blocks and focusing on applying pressure throughout the game.

“Things didn’t really start well for us well before the game (North Wales) but we went out and made a really good start once the game got underway.   Despite North Wales coming at us, we managed to pull away at the end and I think the score line didn’t really reflect maybe how comfortable we were in that second half,” he said.

“We’ve had a tendency to start well and drop off and that’s probably where we’re looking to do better now.  After starting a game well, is making sure we don’t have that period where we allow teams back into the contest,” he said.

“I think for the three of us (coaches) it’s been a real focus for the last twelve months of making sure we have that desire on our goal line.  I think where we came from last year off the first two games, conceding 40 points set the tone for what we needed work on,” said Coleman.

“Defence is a real focus of ours something the boys have really bought into and at the moment are enjoying,” he said.

Consistency has also been a key message driven by the coach.

“It’s massive focus for us this year, backing up our efforts each week.  We spoke about after Doncaster, it wasn’t about Doncaster being the pinnacle.   It was about Doncaster being the start of something this year.   So Coventry at home this weekend, it’s really important we turn up and as you said Coventry are going to be flying and will really look to kick start their season,” he said.

Coventry have started the season relatively slowly racking up some heavy defeats, however these were against some of the more fancied teams this year for promotion (those being Toulouse, Rochdale and Barrow). They did manage to beat the only southern team they have faced in the league this year. That win came against Gloucester, it was a thrilling 29-28 victory that will have re-instilled some confidence. For Skolars to create history and record their fifth victory in a row this weekend, the team will have to be sure not to underestimate their opponents as they did last season and were well beaten 20-46.

Skolars Squad

Aaron Small
Alex Walker
Ben Gray
Ben Pointer
Dave Williams
Edward Mbaraga
Erjon Dollapi
Isreal Eliab
Joe Price
Jon Paxton
Jymel Coleman
kazeem Fatouri
Michael Grenalagh
Michael Sykes
Mike Bishay
Sam Druce
Sam Nash
Toby Everette
Will Lovell



Want to get your kids off the computer and out of the house for some physical activity.  Bring them down to try ‘Summer Rugby’ at London Skolars.

London Skolars Minis & Juniors registrations are still open.  We are looking for boys and girls in the following age groups:

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All our coaches are fully accredited and DBS approved and most importantly, our focus is on getting kids active and having fun! We play small sided games and teach correct technique in a safe and welcoming environment.  Join us and become part of the Skolars family.  You’ll make friends for life!

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* All inclusive refers to a membership which includes the provision of playing kit/jersey.

Sam Nash double helps London Skolars overcome North Wales Crusaders with a 31-24 win, the club’s first ever at Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium.

The hard running winger barged over the line twice at crucial times throughout the game and played a key role in delivering the win.

“We started really well and had the upper hand early so it was good to convert our chances.  When we’re at our best, we can match it the best.  We just need to make sure we’re doing that for eighty minutes,’’ he said.

Both Nash’s tries were off the back of a back line movement but the winger, still with plenty to do to cross the line, showed his finishing skills.

After racing to a 16-0 lead thanks to tries to Dave Williams, Alex Walker and Ryan Chester, Skolars then had to ward off a Crusaders fight back through tries to Alex Thompson and Ryan Smith.

Five minutes before half-time, Nash crossed for his first of the match taking the score to 20-12. The lead was then reduced with a try to Crusaders Scott Turner and a penalty goal from Tommy Johnson.

A try on debut for former PNG Hunters star, Israle Eliab in the second half provided some breathing space for Skolars.

But it was Nash’s second try of the match that ensured a winning margin.  A shift wide through the back line and a deft offload from back rower Will Lovell, saw Nash with the ball twenty metres from the line.  Beating his man on the outside, Nash powered over the full back and stretched out fully to score the try.

“It was a great ball from Will Lovell but I got caught short and remember thinking I just had to try and put the ball down.  I was just doing what I do,’’ said Nash.

“There’s a great feel amongst the group at the moment.  Everyone’s buying into what we’re doing but we’re not getting too carried away.  We’ve got a tough game at home this weekend against Coventry and our focus is already on that (game),’’ he said.

Jymel Coleman was a handful in his first game back and showed glimpses of brilliance, having a hand in most of the Skolars points.   A field goal conversion 9 minutes from full time put the game out of reach.

Full time score Skolars 31 – North Wales Crusaders 24.

Next home game is Sat 23 3pm KO against Conventry Bears at New River Stdium. Tickets available online.

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