Gateshead Thunder 52 London Skolars 55

9th June 2013

An astonishing game at South Shields saw Skolars gain a narrow win, edging out Gateshead Thunder 55-52 after having been 20 points behind late in the first half.

The game had originally been scheduled for Blaydon RFC but was moved during the week to Filtrona Park, which was host to this fixture last season.

Skolars fell behind early on when Benn Hardcastle threw a dummy to open a gap in the defence to score for the home side.

Alex Hurst pulled a try back for Skolars and they almost scored again straight away, but Ade Adebisi couldn’t quite take Joe Price’s pass. There was no error when a similar pass came his way minutes later. They looked to be in control when Dave Williams, scored their third try – a fine break from 35 metres out.

Gateshead 2

However, they then conceded 5 tries in 15 minutes, as Gateshead rarely lost possession. After a try for Danny Nicholas, Josh Neilson managed to evade three tacklers to ground the ball over the tryline. Jason Payne put Thunder further into the lead and a cruel bounce on a dry pitch saw the ball evade James Anthony for former London Bronco Omari Caro score for Thunder.

When Sam Latus (brother of Jack, who played on loan for Skolars in 2011) scored on the right, Skolars were 34-14 behind. Memories of overturning a 19 point deficit against Gateahead in 2004 were evoked and with that in mind, there was a faint glimmer of hope when Adebisi forced his way over the line in the corner as the first half hooter sounded, leaving Skolars 34-18 down at half-time.

15 minutes into the second half they were 8 points ahead as they scored four unanswered tries. Hurst broke the defence 40 metres out, Louis Robinson swiveled in a tackle over the line to score before Erjon Dollapi forced his way over to level the scores and Joe Price finished off a quick passing move on the left side.

Skolars might have gone further ahead had Hurst made a successful interception, but he failed to get to the ball and Thunder scored unopposed. He soon made amends with two more tries and with Dylan Skee kicking his seventh conversion, Skolars looked safe at 40-54.

However, the game started to turn again as Gateshead scored straightaway, with Caro scoring his second try of the day.

Andy McLean coolly slotted a drop goal from the half-way line to put Skolars 9 points ahead with 5 minutes remaining, a drop goal to rival Andy Hirst’s against Dewsbury Moor back in 2000 for the greatest drop goal by a Skolar.

However, Skolars were far from safe Thunder scored again through Paul Stamp with a minute to go. Skolars still had to defend one last set of six before the relief of the final hooter.

Skolars conceded 36 points in a win against Rochdale Hornets last season and lost 54-40 at Blackpool Panthers in 2000, so the scoreline on Sunday eclipsed both of those.

It was also the largest aggregate score in a Skolars game in the professional ranks, the 105 points beating the previous record of 102 set in 2003 at Sheffield Eagles. The first team record aggregate score remains 112 against Kingston Warriors in the Rugby League Conference in 200 (104-8).


Tries: Hardcastle (4), Nicholas (23), Neilson (29), Payne (31), Caro (34,70), Latus (39), Cockburn (58), Stamp (79)

Goals: Hardcastle 8/10



  1 James Anthony

  4 John Paxton

29 Alex Hurst

   3 Joe Price

   5 Ade Adebisi

30 Andy McLean

  7 Dylan Skee

13 Olly Purslow

21 Evan Simons

10 David Williams

11 David Stephenson

12 Mike Worrincy

26 Sam Wellings


Subs (all used)

  9 Martyn Smith

16 Louis Robinson

21 Erjon Dollapi


Tries: Hurst (9,45,62,68), Adebisi (13,40) Williams (18), Robinson (48), Dollapi (51), Price (55)

Goals: Skee 7/10

Drop-goal: McLean (75)


Penalty count: 7-5


Half-time: 34-18

Referee: Jamie Bloem

Attendance: 144


SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 6-4, 6-8, 6-14, 10-14, 16-14, 22-14, 28-14, 34-14, 34-18, 34-24, 34-30, 34-36, 34-42, 40-42, 40-48, 40-54, 46-54, 46-55, 52-55

Photographs courtesy of Paul Jackson

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