Oxford RL 19 London Skolars 12

3rd March 2014

London Skolars fell to a 19-12 defeat at Oxford in their opening Kingstone Press Championship 1 game. Driving rain led to errors on both sides but a brilliant 90 metre break from Oxford full-back Sean Morris after three minutes put the home side ahead. Skolars fielded eight debutants in the starting thirteen and there was often a lack of cohesion as attacking moves broke down. Both Mike Worrincy and new signing Patelisio Pelo went close, but the final pass went to an Oxford hand in both cases.

With the weather worsening, Oxford’s Jimmy Rowland slotted over a drop goal to extend the lead just after the half-hour. Skolars had several more chances to score, but it wasn’t until the last minute of the half that they got onto the scoreboard, with Martyn Smith darting over, Matt Bradley adding the conversion to put them 7-6 down at the break.

A Connor Mulkeen run gave the home side a good position to attack from and Morris again showed his pace to score a second try, Rowland again converting. With a mounting scrum count and both sides conceding penalties, attacking moves were at a premium. James Carty had an open try line but John Paxton’s pass to hin was forward.

Skolars took their chance after Chris Clarke had been sin-binned after his team had been on a warning for persistent holding down. James Carty scored in the left corner, with Bradley kicking a difficult conversion to narrow the margin to a point. But his late drop goal attempt gave Oxford the ball with Skolars’ defence unprepared and they advanced to the other end of the field for Mulkeen to touchdown with the last touch of the game.

The game saw Iliess Macani and Dennis Tuffour making their first team debuts, having played for the club at junior level. Macani is on a dual registration with London Broncos, for whom he played two Super League games. Dennis Tuffour has rejoined the club from York City Knights. They are the 286th and 287th players to appear for Skolars since the club joined the professional ranks in 2003.

Skolars nine debutants, together with their Skolars’ appearance number are:

Iliess Macani 286
Dennis Tuffour 287
Thomas Tabb 288
James Carty 289
Tony Gigot 290
Matt Bradley 291
Lloyd O’Connor 292
Patelisio Pelo 293
Ryan McDonald 294

33 Sean Morris
5 Callum Mulkeen
12 Andrew Hoggibns
3 Marcus Brooker
2 Michael Crabtree
7 Jimmy Rowland
6 Tommy Connick
8 Chris Clarke
9 Alex Thompson
10 Matty Haddin
11 JJ Baird
22 Graham O’Keefe
13 Valu Bentley

Subs (all used)
18 Jordan Rice
15 Glenn Osborn
14 Dave Ellison
17 Rory Sharratt

Tries: Morris (3,42), Mulkeen (80)
Goals: Rowland 3/3
Drop-goal: Rowland
Sib-bin: Clarke (71) – holding down after team warning

1 John Paxton
2 Iliess Macani
4 Dennis Tuffour
3 Thomas Tabb
5 James Carty
6 Tony Gigot
7 Matt Bradley
22 Dave Williams
14 Lloyd O’Connor
10 Oliver Purslow
11 Patelisio Pelo
12 Lamont Bryan
13 Mike Worrincy

Subs (all used)
9 Martyn Smith
15 Rob Thomas
20 Michael Sykes
8 Ryan McDonald

Tries: Smith (40), Carty (73)
Goals: Bradley 2/2

Penalty count: 8-11
Half-time: 7-6
Referee: Andrew Sweet
Attendance: 435

SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 7-0, 7-6, 13-6, 13-12, 19-12

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