London Skolars 66 South Wales Scorpions 14

13th April 2014

Skolars rounded off the last game on grass at New River with a second half flourish, scoring 9 unanswered tries.

However, it was not an assured a performance as the scoreline might suggest as they conceded 3 tries and spilt possession regularly in the first half. That brought a stern half-time team talk from coach Joe Mbu.

“I knew there should be no complacency and that South Wales would come out very determined. I wasn’t happy with the first half and I let the players know that. I was pleased with the reaction; we need to be strong defensively and was pleased we defended as we did in the second half.”

South Wales were close to going in ahead at half-time, a position made the more remarkable as they had 15 players unavailable, with seven on Student International duty, together with injuries, a suspension and hospital attendance for Ashley Bateman who became a father during the week. They also only used 15 players with Matthew Wilcox injured on the bench and coach Mike Grady naming himself because of the lack of players, but only likely to appear if there had been any further injuries during the game.

Scorpions got off to the perfect start. Their kick-offs through Paul Emanuelli troubled Skolars throughout the game and the first one saw the ball bounce near the Skolars’ tryline into Welsh hands, only strong defence stopped a try straight away, but the next move saw Connor Farrer go over with less than 30 seconds on the clock.

They almost scored again soon afterwards, but Scott Britton’s pass to Alan Pope was forward. Dennis Tuffour came into the attacking line to score for Skolars, but Matt Bradley’s conversion hit the posts. Apart from that Skolars seemed to be playing panicked football with errors aplenty, one of which led to Alan Pope intercepting from just before half-way to race to the tryline.

Tuffour scored a second try to level the scores. He put a grubber kick through the middle, had some luck in the way it bounced around in-goal, but showed experience in following up to take advantage of that bounce. Scorpions went into the lead again after electing to take a tap penalty close to Skolars line after a 40-20 kick from Emanuelli had given them good field position. Daryl Carter appeared to walk backwards to the tryline and with the defence expecting him to pass the ball were surprised when he didn’t, but turned and put the ball down to score without a hand near him.

A minute before half-time James Woodburn-Hall scored on the left side after having been held up a few tackles earlier. That was the first of 9 unanswered tries. His fellow dual registration from the Broncos, Mike Bishay moved fast to take an inside kick from Courtney Davies. The kick-off found touch but Skolars soon had the ball again and two props finished off the move with Rob Thomas passing to Dave Williams. Bishay added a second soon afterwards, with Louis Robinson crashing over for the next try.

Skolars went down to 12 player after a fight that saw Thomas sin-binned. They scored 3 tries in his absence. After Williams was held-up over the line, Woodburn-Hall found a gap on the left side and from the next set of six, Mike Bishay completed his hat-trick. He then kicked a 40-20 that found touch 2 metres out and from the scrum, Matt Bradley swung to the right before offloading for Judd Greenhalgh to score.

Woodburn-Hall became the 300th player to pull on a Skolars shirt since they joined the professional ranks in 2003 and he completed his hat-trick with a run down the left wing from half-way with Martyn Smith scoring Skolars 12 try with a burrow from dummy-half with Bradley adding his 9th conversion of the game.

1 Dennis Tuffour
5 John Paxton
4 Mufaro Mvududu
3 James Woodburn-Hall
25 Judd Greenhalgh
6 Courtney Davies
7 Matt Bradley
30 Sam Wellings
9 Lloyd O’Connor
10 Patelisio Pelo
29 Mike Worrincy
11 Anthony Cox
20 Martyn Smith

Subs (all used)
13 Louis Robinson
8 Rob Thomas
21 David Williams
23 Mike Bishay

Tries: Tuffour (13,26), Woodburn-Hall (39,64,74), Bishay (45,55,66), Williams (49), Robinson (57), Greenhalgh (72), Smith (77)
Goals: Bradley 9/12

5 Chris Leyshon
2 Ian Newbury
3 Jack Pring
22 Dafydd Hellard
8 Alan Pope
6 Paul Emanuelli
1 Scott Amber
20 Scott Britton
9 Connor Farrer
23 Richard East
12 Philip Carleton
3 Carl Scrivens
10 Chris Vitalini

7 Daryl Carter
21 Matthew Wilcox (did not play)
19 Scott Giles
13 Mike Grady (did not play)

Tries: Farrer (1), Pope (22), Carter (33)
Goals: Emanuelli 2/3

Penalty count: 11-8

Half-time: 16-14
Referee: Michael Woodhead
Attendance: 417

SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-6, 4-6, 4-10, 10-10, 10-14, 16-14, 22-14,28-14, 34-14, 40-14, 44-14, 50-14, 54-14, 60-14, 66-14

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