London Skolars 17 Barrow Raiders 30

1st July 2012

Skolars looked like they might pull off an upset when they led 11-0 at half-time, but three early tries in the second half showed why Barrow are top of Co-operative Championship 1. The first half performance was all the more remarkable given that Skolars twice had a player sin-binned and scored all their points whilst a man down.

The first sin-binning came 10 minutes in when Neil Thorman was yellow-carded for holding back Liam Campbell when Raiders were attacking the tryline. But when Barrow spilled the ball and then conceded a penalty, Skolars took advantage and Dylan Skee’s long pass found James Anthony coming into the line to race over to open the scoring.

After a lengthy stoppage after a knee injury to Chris Larkin (which thankfully was not as serious as first feared, he returned in the second half), a quick set of passes to the right opened a gap but John Paxton couldn’t take the final pass. Strong running by Bradley Brennan and Liam Harrison forced Skolars to defend, but they held out.

Raiders conceded a goal line drop out soon after following a McLean kick but they were able to bundle Dave Arnot into touch and then they forced a drop out at the other end.

Skolars had to put in some strong defence with Joe Price and Brad Hopkins standing out. A very rare error from Anthony from a Kaighan kick put Skolars under pressure and that has heightened when player-coach Joe Mbu was sin-binned for a late tackle. Again the defence still held and with half-time beckoning, Andy McLean kicked a drop goal from inside his own half. There was still time for one more set of six and the stand-off then stunned the opposition when he went over the tryline on the right with seconds remaining, silencing a sizeable and otherwise vocal travelling support.

Although Skolars had gone in at the break eleven points up, it wasn’t enough of a cushion after having had the advantage of a very strong on a sunny day. Added to that they had also played 20 minutes with 12 players and though they defended well with a player short, the impact on energy levels was always going to tell against a fast powerful Raiders side.

Stung into action by the scores at the end of the half, Raiders were quick to turn the game around. Liam Harrison broke though down the left and James Dandy had been held up. Then Dandy went over himself from dummy half. They scored a third try from the next set with Andy Ballard finishing off a Liam Harrison break. Three tries in six minutes had transformed the game and Barrow were now in control.

Skolars narrowed the gap to one point when Bard Hopkins created a gap in the defence on the left flank, but Barrow were able to score two more tries in quick succession through Martin Ostler and Andy Ballard. Ryan Shaw’s fifth conversion denied Skolars what would have been a well deserved bonus point.

Andy McLean won the The Mall Wood Green Shopping City Man-of-the-Match award. For his performance against a strong Barrow pack, the players’ player award, sponsored by Laurent Perrier, went to Dave Williams.

 

LONDON SKOLARS

1 James Anthony

2 John Paxton

3 Joe Price

4 Dave Arnot

5 Ade Adebisi

6 Andy McLean

7 Dylan Skee

8 Michael Sykes

9 Neil Thorman

10 David Williams

11 Brad Hopkins

12 Matt Thomas

13 Lamont Bryan

 

Subs (all used)

14 Rob Thomas

15 Martyn Smith

16 Louis Robinson

17 Joe Mbu

 

Tries: Anthony (13), McLean (40), Hopkins (61)

Goals: Skee 2/3

Drop-goal: McLean

Sin-bins: Thorman (10) – holding back, Mbu (33) – late tackle

 

BARROW RAIDERS

1 Andy Ballard

2 Mike Backhouse

3 Chris Larkin

4 Ryan Shaw

5 Lee Haney

6 Scott Kaighan

7 Liam Campbell

8 Jamie Butler

9 Liam Finch

10 Bradley Brennan

11 Liam Harrison

12 James Gordon

13 Dan Toal

 

Subs (all used)

14 James Dandy

15 Martin Ostler

16 Ryan Duffy

17 Ruari McGoff

 

Tries:  Harrison (43), Dandy (47), Ballard (49,69), Ostler (67)

Goals: Shaw 5/5

 

Penalty count: 8-5

 

Half-time: 11-0

Referee: Tom Crashley

Attendance: 472

 

SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 7-0, 11-0, 11-6, 11-12, 11-18, 17-18, 17-24, 17-30


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