Northern Rail Bowl Final – London Skolars 24 North Wales Crusaders 42

22nd July 2013

London Skolars were in contention for most of the game, but were outmuscled in the last fifteen minutes of the Northern Rail Bowl Final, played at The Shay, Halifax.

They nearly got off to a flying start, but Erjon Dollapi couldn’t quite get to a Dylan Skee kick before the ball went dead. North Wales took advantage when Skolars conceded a penalty, advancing upfield before Tommy Johnson spotted a massive gap in the defence on the tryline.

Skolars levelled the game soon afterwards, forcing an error close to Crusaders’ line, before Dollapi darted over. However, they fell behind again after tries by Christiaan Roets and Andy Moulsdale, the first coming after Skolars failed to defend a kick through into the in-goal area.

The Londoners narrowed the deficit when Louis Robinson barged over, though the try was only given after consultation with the video referee. Dylan Skee added his second conversion of the afternoon.

The next set of six tackles saw Alex Hurst, Mike Worrincy and Mike Bishay combine to race down the right wing. That left the defence weak and quick passing to the left saw Ade Adebisi go in at the corner, through again the video referee was involved. That levelled the scores at 16 apiece.

That strong finish to the first half was continued after the break. Bishay made a 40-20 kick that gave Skolars a scrum 10 metres from the Crusaders’ tryline. They then won a penalty which Skee slotted over to put them two points into the lead.

However, North Wales’ kick-off hit the cross-bar and they gained possession, forcing a goal line drop out and Gary Middlehurst scored to regain the lead for the Welsh.

Skolars looked to have gone ahead when Olly Purslow forced his way over the tryline. However, the video referee adjudged that he had been held up over the line, much to the disappointment of the travelling Skolars’ fans.

With two points separating the sides, the game started to heat up. Both sides had qualified for the Bowl final as a result of winning their respective groups in the Northern Rail Cup and the final was played before the final of that competition. Experienced hooker Dave McConnell burrowed over for Crusaders and then Rob Massam went over in the corner to give them a twelve point lead.

Skolars needed to get the next score to stay in the game, but after Andy McLean had gone off injured at the end of the first half they were hit further when Ade Adebisi was stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle. Skolars weren’t allowed to bring a substitute on straightaway for Adebisi and Crusaders took full advantage with McConnell scoring his second try.

A glimmer of hope came when Sam Wellings scored for Skolars on the left flank, but they need to throw the ball around from the kick-off and they ended up conceding a penalty, Johnson kicking his fifth goal of the day.

Skolars weren’t ready to give in even with three minutes remaining, but the short kick-off didn’t go 10 metres and another penalty saw Crusaders advance before Dan Birkett scored in the left corner to round the game off.

Leigh Centurions beat Sheffield Eagles 43-28 in the subsequent Northern Rail Cup final.

London Skolars
1 James Anthony
4 John Paxton
29 Alex Hurst
3 Joe Price
5 Ade Adebisi
26 Andy McLean
7 Dylan Skee
31 Erjon Dollapi
33 Mike Bishay
10 David Williams
12 Mike Worrincy
27 Sam Wellings
13 Olly Purslow

Subs (all used)
9 Martyn Smith
8 Rob Thomas
16 Louis Robinson
32 Jamaine Weay

Tries: Dollapi (18), Robinson (32), Adebisi (34), Wellings (73)
Goals: Skee 4/5

1 Tommy Johnson
32 Dan Birkett
17 Stuart Reardon
3 Christiaan Roets
5 Rob Massam
6 Andy Moulsdale
33 Jamie Dallimore
21 Simon Stephens
14 Dave McConnell
8 Johnny Walker
29 Stephen Bannister
12 Gary Middlehurst
11 Andy Gorski

Subs (all used)
13 Jono Smith
9 Lee Hudson
16 Ryan Mac Donald
30 Owain Brown

Tries: Johnson (13), Roets (23), Mousdale (28), Middlehurst (52), McConnell (64,71), Massam (68), Burkitt (80)
Goals: Johnson 5/9

Penalty count: 7-7

Half-time: 16-16
Referee: Joe Cobb

SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-6, 6-6, 6-12, 6-16, 12-16, 16-16, 18-16, 18-20, 18-26. 18-36, 24-36, 24-38, 24-42

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