London Skolars 44 Hemel Stags 28

16th September 2013

London Skolars moved into the final eliminator of the play-offs after a first half display that saw them score 7 unanswered tries against local rivals Hemel Stags. Skolars will travel to Oldham next Sunday and the winners of that game will take on Rochdale Hornets for the last promotion place into the Kingstone Press Championship.

However, Skolars will have to cope without their leading points scorer as Dylan Skee was stretchered off late in the game after breaking his ankle.

The players ran onto the pitch in driving rain and whilst that reduced to drizzle during the game, both sides had to deal with a strong wind rolling down the pitch. All but 6 of the points were scored against the wind, with neither side really using the wind effectively. The one side that used the wind intelligently was Hemel who kicked off low and hard towards both touchlines, finding touch or forcing errors four times in their first five attempts. Their problem was that by that point they were four tries down and didn’t make use of the possession they enjoyed.

Skolars creativity allowed them to use possession well with good runs from deep in their own half, often exposing the defence on both flanks. They were also good in the middle with James Anthony (pictured above) running onto Dylan Skee’s short kick to score the first try.

Skolars’ second came three minutes later when Alex Hurst intercepted a Stags pass on his own 20 metre line and there no stopping him for reaching the other end of the field. They forced a goal line drop out straight on the next set from which they attacked again with Hurst scoring out wide on the right.

When James Anthony scored his second try just before the half-hour Skolars were well in control of the game. That try saw the full-back draw level with Mark Cantoni’s club record of 20 tries in a season.

After the Stags had won a scrum from the restart kick, they knocked on at the base of the scrum and Skolars took full advantage with Gareth Raynor cutting loose before Oscar Thomas scored down the left. With Martyn Smith (who played the full 80 minutes with four props on the bench) kept on making good yards with his scoots. The recently shorn Hirst then completed his hat-trick before Rob Thomas powered over just before the break leaving Skolars in a commanding position and starting to plan next week’s trip to Greater Manchester.

With the wind supposedly in the favour, Skolars looked like they were going to really take control when Smokie Junor slid over in the right corner, just avoiding the touchline. Dylan Skee’s fifth conversion saw him record a century of goals for the season.

The one-way traffic was halted in dramatic fashion. Mike Forgham caught a high kick 10 metres from his own line before weaving through the Skolars’ right hand defence to race to the tryline to open the Stags scoring. When Aiden Pritchard burst his way over the line a few minutes later, there was still an element of tension in the game, especially when Ash Fryson went close, just being bundled into touch close to the tryline.

Skolars’ next attack saw Dylan Skee turning to pass with no-one in support, the resultant clattering saw him stretched off with an injury to his foot or ankle and may well be a serious loss for the Skolars next week. Hemel continued to mount a late comeback, now starting to gain good yardage with regularity, creating an overlap for James Hill to score before Barry-John Swindells opened a huge gap in front of the posts to touchdown, adding his fourth of five conversions.

A penalty for kicking the ball out dead from the restart saw the Stags attack again with Ben Young scoring this time. Whilst it was still too late for a meaningful comeback, Skolars were concerned enough that they elected to go for two points for a late penalty 15 metres out, so as to wind the clock down, with Oscar Thomas taking over the kicking duties from Skee.

LONDON SKOLARS
1 James Anthony
2 Smokie Junor
29 Alex Hurst
32 Oscar Thomas
37 Gareth Raynor
26 Andy McLean
7 Dylan Skee
31 Erjon Dollapi
9 Martyn Smith
10 David Williams
19 James Roche
3 Joe Price
27 Sam Wellings

Subs (all used)
30 Michael Sykes
8 Rob Thomas
13 Olly Purslow
16 Louis Robinson

Tries: Anthony (11,27), Hurst (14,19,36), O Thomas 932), R Thomas (38), Junor (44)
Goals: Skee 5/8, O Thomas 1/1

HEMEL
1 Mike Forgham
27 Tobias Rochester-Bremner
3 Aaron Small
9 James Hull
22 Ash Fryson
13 Jack Malloy
7 Ben Young
8 James Howitt
2 Sean Johnson
12 Aiden Pritchard
31 Alex Ingerfield
4 BJ Swindells
15 Dan Ljizouli

Subs (all used)
14 Ian Keevil
9 Joel Miranda
18 Miles McLeoad
34 Eddir MBaraga

Tries: Forgham (51), Pritchard (54), Hill (70), Swindells (74), Young (76)
Goals: Swindells 4/5

Penalty count: 7-6

Half-time: 38-0
Referee: Joe Cobb
Attendance: 367

SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 12-0, 16-0, 22-0, 26-0, 32-0, 38-0, 42-0, 42-6, 42-12, 42-16, 42-22, 42-28, 44-28


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