Last Minute Heartbreak in South Wales

Kingstone Press Championship 1
South Wales Scorpions 19
London Skolars 18

A drop goal with four minutes remaining meant that Skolars fell to the narrowest defeat in Cardiff.

South Wales moved the game from their Maesteg home for what was a triple bill of matches at the historic Cardiff Arms Park. They didn’t get off to the best of starts with Ashley Bateman being sin-binned for dissent after 10 minutes. Skolars missed a couple of good chances, Martyn Smith losing the ball as he was tackled on the tryline and then Mufaro Mvududu’s pass to John Paxton was forward.

The Scorpions took advantage of that mistake with Phil Carleton opening the scoring. Skolars went into the lead when Courtney Davies sliced through the defence to score against his former side before adding a conversion.

Despite Skolars enjoying possession thanks in part to the home side conceding eight penalties in the first half, Scorpions regained the lead when Jordan Sheridan came into the attacking line from full-back to ease through the defence on the right. Skolars then found themselves down to 12 men temporarily when debutant Josh Sunley was sin-binned for an illegal tackle. Paul Emanuelli kicked a penalty at the end of the half to put Scorpions 12-6 up at half-time.

With New River currently being developed the pitch at the Arms Park gave Skolars an early chance to play on an artificial pitch. They came back strongly in the second half. After Skolars forced a goal-line drop out Ryan Mcdonald banged his way over the line, Davies’ conversion levelling the scores. Seven minutes later David Williams crashed through to the line after a kick and regather by Mike Bishay had given Skolars a chance to attack close to the line.

Skolars then had to withstand several determined attacks, Daniel Parry was held up over the line, but when Jack Pring cut inside to score on the left, Emanuelli’s conversion levelled the scores again. Dave Williams was held up over the line at the other end, but with neither side controlling possession, it was Scorpions who took an opportunity for a drop-goal. When Paul Emanuelli slotted the ball between the sticks, there was still time for a Skolars’ attack, but a poor kick off safely found Welsh hands and the home side held out for just their second win of the season, both coming against Skolars, and their first in Wales for over a year.

Earlier the Under 19s lost 54-10 to their Welsh counterparts. Luke Stack and Rhys Whitby scored tries with Scott Whitby converting one, but there was no disgrace in losing to what was almost the Welsh national under 19 side, with 14 of the Scorpions having represented their country in the Commonwealth Games Rugby League 9s, which took place as a exhibition event at the start of the month.

1 Jordan Sheridan
2 Ian Newbury
3 Jack Pring
12 Phil Carleton
5 Chris Leyshon
6 Paul Emanuelli
7 Shaun Owens
25 Neil Dallimore
13 Ashley Bateman
18 Harrison Elliott
11 Barrie Phillipa
14 Mike Connor
10 Chris Vitalini

Subs (all used)
21 Daniel Parry
23 Richard East
16 Osian Philips
22 Morgan Evans

Tries: Carleton (15), Sheridan (28), Pring (62)
Goals: Emanuelli 3/4
Drop-goal: Emanuelli
Sin-bin: Bateman (10) – dissent

1 Josh Sunley
14 James Duckworth
3 John Paxton
4 Mufaro Mvududu
5 Iliess Macani
6 Courtney Davies
7 Danny Yates
22 Erjon Dollapi
9 Martyn Smith
21 Michael Sykes
11 Anthony Cox
31 Lamont Bryan
10 Dave Williams

Subs (all used)
13 Louis Robinson
8 Ryan McDonald
16 Mike Bishay
20 Tely Pelo

Tries: Davies (21), McDonald (51), Williams (58)
Goals: Davies 3/3
Sin-bin: Sunley (36) – punching

Penalty count: 7-11
Half-time: 12-6
Referee: Adam Gill

Attendance: 486

SCORING SEQUENCE: 4-0, 4-6, 10-6, 12-6, 12-12, 12-18, 18-18, 19-18

Skolars earned their first point of the league campaign against top of the table Swinton at The Willows. Having dominated the second half they will be ruing having to fightback after a five minute spell in the first half when they conceded three tries.

Swinton got off to a flying start with a break from his own 20 metre line in the first minute by Phil Joseph saw Gavin Dodd score after just 35 seconds. A bad start, but Skolars levelled the game after 14 minutes. Jack Latus on his debut for the club went close to the line and a quick flick pass to the wing by Gareth Honor saw Dave Arnot touchdown with Neil Thorman converting from the touchline.

Then came the three quickfire tries for the Lions. First Ian Mort cut inside dodging several tackles on the way to the tryline. Then Roben foxen broke through, looked to have been caught and threw a speculative pass behind him. It found Gavin Dodd perfectly. Foxen then added a try himself.

Dave Arnot made a fine try saving tackle to deny Sam Reay, but from the next move Darren Hawkyard extended the Lions’ lead.

Skolars pulled two tries back before the break. Lamont Bryan, on loan from Harlequins RL finished off a Neil Thorman break. Then a 40-20 by Jy-Mel Coleman saw Skolars with a scrum deep into Swinton’s half, and scored when Ade Adebisi went over in the left corner.

But Swinton finished the half as they had started it, Karl Ashall’s try with 25 seconds of the half remaining gave them a 34-18 lead at the break.

The home side were the first to score after the restart through Dale Cunniffe. But then Skolars started to take control and put the Lions onto the backfoot. Dylan Skee kicked a 40-20. Arnot was caught on the sixth tackle, but soon afterwards Lamont Bryan made a strong break and Jack Latus scored on his debut after some quick passing by Honor and Thorman.

Then Dylan Skee and Jason Cook combined to put Adebisi over for his second try of the game. Thorman added his fifth conversion and his 40-20 put Skolars in a good position to score again. Honor was held up over the line, but the home defence held out for the final 10 minutes and looked relieved to hear the final hooter.

It was Skolars’ first ever game at The Willows, the temporary home of Swinton, and unless a cup run draws Skolars against either Swinton or Salford, it’s unlikely that they will play there again as Salford are set to move to a new stadium at the end of the season. That meant Austen Aggrey may miss out on a chance to score a try on his home city ground. He still needs one touchdown to record his 50th try for Skolars.

21 Ian Mort
2 Rob Foxen
3 Gavin Dodd
5 Sam Reay
20 Richard Flooks
6 Martin Ainscough
7 Ian Watson
8 Mike Morrison
9 Mark Smith
10 Dana Wilson
36 Dale Cunniffe
15 Darren Hawkyard
13 Phil Joseph

Subs (all used)
25 Karl Ashall
38 Lee Paterson
29 Chris Tyrer
27 Bruce Johnson

Tries: Dodd (1,20), Mort (17), Foxen (22), Hawkyard (30), Ashall (40), Cunniffe (46)

1 Neil Thorman
31 Jack Latus
17 Dave Arnot
14 Jason Cook
5 Ade Adebisi
7 Dylan Skee
6 Jy-Mel Coleman
22 Saqib Murtza
9 Gareth Honor
10 Jason Hart
33 Lamont Bryan
15 Olly Purslow
31 Austen Aggrey

Subs (all used)
32 Sam Gee
16 James Simon
8 Tony Williams
33 Cariern Clement-Pascall

Tries: Arnot (14), Bryan (35), Adebisi (37,69), Latus (57)
Goals: Thorman 5/5

Penalty count: 4-9

Half-time: 34-18
Referee: Clint Sharrad

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