London Skolars 48 Gateshead Thunder 22

27th May 2012

Skolars scored nine tries in their victory against Gateshead, but it took a determined second half performance to fend off a spirited Thunder comeback in the first half. Skolars coach, Joe Mbu, felt that “we almost let it slip, but we showed good character to stay in there and did what we needed to do. It was a stern half-time team talk; the message was keep it simple.”

Skolars had raced into an early lead with Dylan Skee and Joe Price releasing Ade Adebisi in the corner after just three minutes. That was soon followed by a try down the left for Brad Hopkins who was difficult to stop all day. Thunder pulled a try back when Tom Hodgson took a good offload from Matt Barron. Skolars responded immediately with Lamont Bryan powering over the tryline.

The Londoners extended their lead when Mike Worrincy was just able to stretch to reach the tryline. That score came after Gateshead had conceded one of many penalties in a game that got fractious at time, perhaps not suprising given the humid conditions.

Josh Neilson looked like he was wrapped up by the defence, but slipped a ball out along the ground which Joe Brown was able to gather and race to the corner. Brown also made a try saving tackle soon afterwards, bundling Dave Arnot into touch.

After Stephen Welton was held up, the hard working Brett Waller pushed over the line to score after a couple of penalties had given Gateshead good field position. The prop played for the full 80 minutes, though he couldn’t keep up the work rate he had displayed in the first half.

Gateshead finished the half strongly and needed a good start to the second period. However, Skolars came out with determination. A massive 40-20 from Skee put paid to that. He kicked from his own 20, and even allowing for the small Skolars’ pitch, a ball landing past Gateshead’s 10 metre line was impressive. When the ball got to Adebisi on the sixth tackle it looks like the field position might have been wasted, but the winger cut inside before finding a gap to score under the posts.

Thunder had to defend, Danny Barker managing to catch a James Anthony chip and running 30 metres to safety. Anthony scored just after the hour, coming into the attacking line on the left forcing the defence to spread too thinly, before accelerating to the tryline. At 32-16 the result wasn’t a foregone conclusion, especially after last season’s 32 all draw.

Paul Stamp caught Skolars unawares, darting over from dummy half to narrow the gap, but Skolars looked to have more energy in the last 10 minutes. Brad Hopkins added his second after a Dave Arnot break. Gateshead full-back took two tough but legal blows in quick succession and a long stoppage saw him stretchered off with a leg injury, though later prognosis suggested the injury wasn’t serious.

Ade Adebisi completed his hat-trick straight afterwards, but there was still time for Martyn Smith to race 20 metres to score Skolars’ ninth try and for Skee for kick his sixth conversion.

The Mall, Wood Green Man-of-the Match went to Ade Adebisi. The players’ player award sponsored by Laurent Perrier went to Brad Hopkins.

 

LONDON SKOLARS

1 James Anthony

2 John Paxton

3 Joe Price

4 Dave Arnot

5 Ade Adebisi

6 Neil Thorman

7 Dylan Skee

8 Olly Purslow

9 Martyn Smith

10 David Williams

11 Brad Hopkins

12 Mike Worrincy

13 Lamont Bryan

 

Subs (all used)

14 Rob Thomas

15 Oliver Bloom

16 Alex Bate

17 Joe Mbu

 

Tries: Adebisi (3,46,77) Hopkins (6,73), Bryan (11), Worrincy (19), Anthony (61), Smith (79)

Goals: Skee 6/9

 

GATESHEAD THUNDER

1 Shane Ackerley

2 Ash Thackeray

3 Mike Mitchell

4 Josh Neilson

5 Joe Brown

6 Chris Parker

7 Gavin Beasley

8 Brett Waller

9 Tom Hodgson

10 Tabuanitogo Cakacaka Fou

11 Matt Barron

12 Danny Barker

13 Jason Payne

 

Subs (all used)

14 Paul Stamp

15 Josh Stoker

16 Stephen Welton

17 Olle O’Mara

 

Tries:  Hodgson (8), Brown (23), Waller (37), Stamp (65)

Goals: Beasley 1/2, Parker 2/2

 

Penalty count: 9-9

 

Half-time: 20-16

Referee: Dave Sharpe

Attendance: 353

 

SCORING SEQUENCE: 4-0, 8-0, 8-6, 14-6, 20-6, 20-10, 20-16, 26-16, 32-16, 32-22, 38-22, 42-22, 48-22


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