Skolars Under 16’s cap extraordinary season with finals victory.

Skolars 20 – Brentwood Eels 12

u16 victory

London Skolars U16’s capped a monumental 2018 season with a 20-12 victory in a pulsating clash against Brenwtood Eels. The Skolars youngsters have been on an extraordinary journey this season; 10 of the current 30 man squad have been together since U10’s providing the back bone of the team today.

In the regular season the boys from New River Stadium finished top of the table amongst 9 quality teams in the South. With 7 victories from 8 and just one loss to Hemel Stags the Skolars accumulated 14 points out of a possible 16 with 322 points scored and only against. Alongside the regular season, the squad performed superbly in two 9-aside events, being the only side to field two teams in each of the competitions.

The Grand Final was held on Saturday 21st July at Ealing Trailfinders, the home of London Broncos on a red-hot 32c day in West London. Joint head coaches Paul Quill, and new this season, Nick Padgett, assembled a squad that would come to dominate the division. Packed full of Broncos and Saracens Academy standard players and with an average pack weight of over 16 stone a man, it was always going to be tough for a quality Brentwood side. The Eels were deserved finalists finishing second to the Skolars by 1 point in the league followed by a convincing win over Hemel in the semis. However, Skolars fire power was shown by having a league points for of 178 v Brentwood’s 70, but the stage was set for a classic.

Skolars took to the field without their star hooker, Kayne Chan-Kitchener, who switched from Saracens Academy to star for the club this season and his season long performances suggest a player who will make the transition from junior into the Skolars first tea. A hugely committed individual, Kayne was due to travel for a once in a life time trip to Borneo on the Saturday morning. However his Dad Nick Padgett, who was also due on holiday delayed his trip to Scotland, to be with the lads and see it through to the end. Other omens were against Skolars when Brentwood beat Hemel in extra time by a golden point try in the U14s final immediately before the U16s final.

From the kick-off Skolars looked strong. Great runs from Jevaughan Warren and Samson in the forwards rocked the Eels forwards on their heels. The ‘Bowling ball’  Kaylum Lewin continually bust holes and the inevitable happened when Samson powered over and went in under the posts. Tommy Fraine landed the extras. Skolars from the kick off again powered downhill. Substitute Cameron Giwa-McNeil added some significant bulk and ran over several of the Eels players. Some smart play from hooker Fraine and mercurial half back Alex Deery set up Warren to power over. Fraine struck the posts for the extras and Skolars now led by 10.

Brentwood the started to apply some pressure. Skolars bravely defended their lines and repelled several attacks. Deery was notable in defence making several important last-ditch tackles. The Eels weren’t to be held back for too long and got over on the back of solid forward runs and then spreading the ball out wide to score. Conversion was missed.

Half time 10 – 4

Second half was always going to be a challenge as it was up hill on a very hot day. Added to this was that unlike regular games through the season there was no drinks break at the quarter ends so both teams had to power through the fatigue generated by the heat.

The Eels were receiving from the kick off and immediately pressed using the slope to their advantage. The Skolars defence was strong and some bone rattling hits were being dished out by the much bigger Skolars pack. Skolars worked hard to hold out the Eels and caused several turn overs. Dylan Jimini, the Trojan like Joe Connolly and the ever-energetic Joe Hurding were most notable in defence. Jimini made significant yards from picking up from the base of the scrum and charging like a stallion at the Eels defenders who needed 2 or 3 in the tackle every time in order to stop his progress. This gave a great platform for the team and the ball was spun out wide, fast hands, and dancing feet Tommy Laing through a nice shimmy and dummy and scored out wide on the right. Metronomic Fraine converted.

The Eels still had lots of fight in them with the officials penalising Skolars aggressive style giving several penalties in a row that allowed the Eels to piggy back their progress down the field. This led to significant pressure on the Skolars line and a long pass out wide broke the heroic defensive line and the Eels pulled a score back. Again, the kick was missed. Score was now 16 – 8.

The success of this last score and the referee’s strict interpretations of high tackles and laying on gave the Eels some great momentum. Again, working their way down the pitch to pressure the Skolars line. Some solid defensive work from Captain Luciano Bejanidze managed to pull off several last-ditch tackles alongside great work from Hurding, but eventually the dam burst and Eels pulled it back with a well worked try again out wide. Again, the kick was missed but the score was narrowed to 16 – 12.

This however spurred the Skolars into action. Coaches Quill and Padgett pulled the strings by bringing on Jude Schoeman, Rohan Phlora and Thomas Quill who all provided some valuable energy. From an Eels attack Liam Scott pulled off a great two-person tackle with Stuart Patterson that dislodged the ball from an Eels players grasp and caused a turnover. Skolars worked their way up the pitch and put pressure on the Eels in their 20. Skolars were awarded a penalty and attacked the Eels line. After a few probing runs Fraine provided quick ball to Isaak Nathan who superbly shipped it to Hurding who gave a wonder ball to Giwa-McNeil who brushed off  a couple of defenders to score to the left of the posts. Reliable Fraine added the extras.

The Eels had a few more chances to make in roads into the Skolars defence but the Skolars remained stellar in defence and remained in total control. The lads had a few half chances but saw out the game to take it relatively comfortably against a top class and sporting Brentwood.

And as the referees whistle heralded the end of the game the proud Skolars lads celebrated and in a fine show of sportsmanship Joel Aggus, renowned as a great club man, ran over to one of the disconsolate Ells players and gave him a hug to console him.

With a gutsy, resilient, committed and dominant display in the final that replicated the performances throughout the season, the future for the Skolars junior programme and players shines brighter than ever.

With only 3 days to go until the huge clash against former World Club Champions Bradford Bulls, we caught up with Skolars’ high-profile capture for 2018, ex-‘Bull’, former Super League fastest man and self-confessed ‘Love Island’ addict, Omari Caro.

Q: Your old team, Bradford Bulls are the visitors to New River Stadium this Saturday; a big welcome in store for your old club?

A: “Yes definitely. It’s always fun to see old team mates and colleagues and I’m really looking forward to it. The Bulls fans always show their support and travel in big numbers so it will be good to see some familiar faces. It’s going to be a great day.”

Q: With the visit of the League leaders has the intensity in training stepped up a little bit?

A: “It has, although it’s been a tough couple of weeks game-wise with the close game against York City Knights, who beat the Bulls last weekend and then our long trip to Whitehaven in Cumbria. Those games are naturally grinds and battles so again this week training has reflected who we have coming to face us and we’re awaiting the challenge.”

Q: How do you think the Bulls have gone this year?

A: “Good. The quality is there and they were always very likely to challenge for automatic promotion. They’ve got quality throughout the squad and a good coach has come in this year and made a difference. They had a difficult result against York at the weekend  but it the was two top teams in the division hammering out so it always was going to be difficult. But overall I think they will do really well towards the end of the season.”

Q: How do you see the game going at the weekend, where are the Bulls main threats?

A: “They’ve got a good spine; the 1, 6,7 and 9 are high quality players and Jordan Lilley has just re-signed on loan from Leeds Rhinos and he was pretty good for us last year when I was there. You’ve got Joe Keyes going really well in the halves as well and Ethan Ryan who is scoring for fun. So they typically pose threats right across the park.”

Q: Do you have any special messages for the Bulls fans this weekend?

A: “Yes, bring your sunscreen, it’s going to be hot! Oh and beer is more expensive in London. But don’t worry we have happy hours in the clubhouse and northern prices” (shameless plug, great work Omari)

love_island_logo

Q: And you’re a big Love Island fan, so the big question is did Georgia go for the kiss?

A: Yes she did. Typical Yorkshire girl!

Q: What’s your view on the season, who do you think will win and who would YOU have coupled up with.

A: It’s been a good season but I also think it’s been scripted a lot more than the previous series which makes a lot of it hard to believe. Kaz and Josh should win but I’m sure Jack and Dany will. As for me I would probably have coupled up with Ellie or Kaz. Or both hahaha

London Skolars were left ruing missed opportunities as they suffered another narrow defeat, this time going down 28-18 at Whitehaven in Betfred League One.

Skolars enjoyed some good spells of possession in the early stages, but could not turn it into points. A break by James Meadows, continued by Billy Driver and Matt Fleming, saw Whitehaven put under pressure and Skolars won a scrum close to the tryline, but lost the ball on the very first tackle.

Whitehaven’s Stu Howath spotted an opportunity to kick high to the corner for Jordan Burns to outjump Vinny Finigan to score the Cumbrian’s first try. He kicked again to the wing a few minutes later to force a drop-out, then repeated his successful strategy for Burns to score his second try.

Haven went further ahead when Josh Eaves went in under the posts after Skolars had conceded several penalties in quick succession. That saw them put on a team warning and when Matt Ross was judged offside five minutes later, he found himself yellow carded.

Skolars held out for the rest of the half and won the ball from the restart in the second half. Mike Bishay was in support to take the ball on from Meadows, before Lameck Juma dived low to get through the defence on the tryline.

The visitors scored again five minutes later when Jy-Mel Coleman stretched out to score, returning to side after a couple of months out through injury. Neil Thorman converted to narrow the gap to four points and almost set up another try when he chipped over the defence, but lost control as he tried to regather and pass to Bishay with the line beckoning.

Bishay was involved again a few minutes later when he kicked through and then raced onto a second kick by Driver, but was stopped just short of the tryline.  Whitehaven missed a penalty kick at goal, but went further ahead when Connor Holliday went over on the left. The conversion hit the posts, but Skolars were penalised at the kick-off when they tried to kick short, but the ball didn’t go the required 10 metres.

Whitehaven pressurised the line and Chris Taylor cut through the defence with ease on the right.

Skolars reduced the gap back to eight points when Lameck Juma touched down for his second try with Thorman kicking his third goal of the afternoon, but a late penalty goal by Jordan Burns sealed the game for the home side.

Skolars take on league leaders Bradford Bulls this Saturday. It will be the first time the former World Champions have visited New River Stadium

London Skolars lost a closely fought contest 20-22 in an excellent contest at New River Stadium today.  The Skolars went ahead with a penalty after 20 minutes before York forced their way over for a try to lead 10-2 at the break.

The second half saw Vinny Finnigan collect a grubber kick to score under the posts followed by a superb show of craft by Neil Thorman and Mike Bishay who screeched over 40 metres to the corner.

York ran out eventual winners but many in the stadium left with vast respect and plaudits for the men from New River.

The Skolars welcome Bradford Bulls in their next home game, tickets available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/london-skolars-vs-bradford-bulls-tickets-41868361396

 

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