Skolars v Stags – Play-Off Preview

13th September 2013

Skolars coach Joe Mbu believes his side have found a new lease of life as they approach Sunday’s crucial Kingstone Press Championship One Elimination Play-Off match against southern rivals Hemel Stags.

Mbu said: “We trained on Tuesday and the boys were bubbly, lively and bouncing around like it was pre-season, which I hope is a good indication of what’s to come this weekend.”

Skolars lost to a last-minute try at Rochdale last week, but Mbu insists it is a lesson that will stand his side in good stead.
He said: “If we get to that stage again, up by two with two minutes to go, I’m hoping they’ll have learned enough about what needs to be done and how they need to approach those last few minutes. It’s invaluable.”

Michael Worrincy is a major doubt for Skolars, whilst Hemel Stags trio Eddie Mbaraga, Chad Sharp and Christian Champion are all set to miss out. Stags coach Troy Perkins said: “Our injury list is getting longer and longer, and we’re pretty much down to the bare bones now. “They’ve come at the wrong end of the season for us, but we’ve got lots of character and we always work hard.”

Both Joe Mbu and Troy Perkins were yesterday named as nominees for the Kingstone Press Championship 1 coach of the year, alongside Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths.

Coming into the match Skolars half-back Dylan Skee believes defeat in the 2013 Northern Rail Bowl final could be the key to ensuring his side go all the way in the Kingstone Press Championship One play-offs.

Skee believes defeat to North Wales Crusaders in the Bowl has prepared the squad for the pressures of play-off rugby.
“Losing in the Northern Rail Bowl was very disappointing but I think it has actually been a help to us,” said Skee.
“That result has spurred us on a bit. We had a few players who had never experienced that type of big game before and we were maybe a little overawed by the occasion.

“We played really well for 60 minutes and then we switched off and that cost us badly, but I think we’ve learnt a lot from that experience and we know what to expect in the bigger games now and we’re prepared for it and we’re confident that we can go all the way to the final.

“The club has grown year-on-year while I’ve been here and it will be massive for us if we can gain that step up to the Championship and it will be a great reward for all the staff and the owners.

“I’m definitely looking forward to being involved in that race and I’m excited about how far we can go and what we can do – all we have to do now is go out there and do it.”

Although the Skolars take on Hemel after losing out to Rochdale Hornets in the opening round of the play-offs courtesy of a last-minute try in a dramatic 26-24 match Skee says that result has not dampened the squad’s spirit ahead of an all-or-nothing clash.

“We were upset about the result against Rochdale,” he said. “We had the game in our grasp and to lose in the final minutes is always hard to take, but we quickly re-focused on the journey back to London and we’re looking ahead to Hemel now.

“Hemel have had a great season and they should be very proud of what they have achieved. They play at a high intensity and they’ll be very determined and going all-out to try and get past us and we know we’re going to have to match that.
“But we’re confident that we can put on the performance that’s required to take another step towards the play-off final, which is where we think we belong.”

Tickets for the Kingstone Press Championship One play-off fixture, London Skolars v Hemel Stags, at the New River Stadium on Sunday September 15 (3.00pm) cost £10 and £5 if purchased online at before end of business on Friday or £12 and £6 from the ticket office in the main stand on the day of the match

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