17’s & 13’s Both Take Positives from Cup Semi-Finals

11th May 2015

This weekend at New River saw the two biggest games of the season so far for our U13’s and U17’s as they competed for a place in the LJL Cup Final. For the U17’s this was familiar territory, having being involved in the final last year. However for our young U13’s this was their first venture into the Semi-final stages of the Cup and there was a real excitement from the coaches and players as they kicked off the morning.

It was a pleasure to see both Skolars and their semi-final opponents Brentwood have to choose from over 25 players, it’s vital for London Rugby League that our young age groups are constantly high on numbers and we are really pushing to keep the production line of London Rugby League stars rolling.

Both teams were well known to each other, having locked horns in the LJL a few weeks back, Brentwood are a well organised side who have been together for a number of years now and possess some of the most promising young players in the U13’s age group including a particularly dangerous half-back who their game revolves around. However Skolars were certainly up for the challenge and dominated the territory in the first half but could just not muster enough to break through a well organised Brentwood defence.

Even with all the possession, Skolars fell victim to some fantastic break-out tries from the rangy Brentwood back line and they continued to pull away from the young Skolars, eventually running out 26-0 winners.
Whilst the young Skolars were disappointed to not reach their first ever Final, there was lots of positives to take from the game and with more experience at this level, coupled with more time together on the training park our U13’s will only get better and come the end of the season should be challenging for honours. Head Coach Paul Quill spoke at the end of the game ‘the result didn’t go our way today, but the smiles and numbers of young players we had playing show just how much potential there is in the team this year. We will continue to work hard, improve and I’m sure our time will come, good luck to Brentwood in the Final.’

In the second game of the day our U17’s faced an unknown opponent in Bromley Bengals, unbeaten in the league so far and buoyed after last week’s fantastic win against Medway there was an air of confidence in the Skolars camp. Bromley turned up with only 11 players and despite the offer of 2 players from Skolars to bolster their ranks the game started with 11 against 11. The smaller numbers on the field definetly benefitted the Bromley boys, and they played an almost union style game with fast play the balls, exposing some of the London Skolars big forwards in the middle. Before they even had time to react, Skolars found themselves 16-0 down and facing a real struggle to get back into the game. However confidence never waned, and they knew in Jordan Rhoden, Dillon Adabie, Jerome Yates and Nicky Freeman they had 2 edges that could really cause the Bengals some trouble.
The message from coaches Cuss, Pentecost and Hamer at half-time was to stay confident and to begin to value the correct things. The 17’s reacted in the perfect manner coming out for the second half and began to assert some authority over the game, defensively they gained far more control in contact and this nullified the Bengals fast game plan. Skolars hit back numerous times, with the star of the game Jordan Rhoden crossing for a huge 5 try haul, an 80m solo effort, gaining plaudits from the watching 1st team members. Bromley failed to lie down though and kept coming at the Skolars and the result was never fully sealed until Dillon Adabie intercepted a looping pass to race away and touch down under the posts for the try that finally put Skolars clear and into the Cup Final for the 2nd successive year.

U17’s Coach Matt Cuss commented on the win ‘it was tough game today and we were under a bit of adversity from the off, however it was nice to see that the boys dug deep and got themselves through it. Whilst it’s nice to win games by 40 points each week, these last two weeks have seen the boys be in real contests and they will be better from this experience, it will be a tough final against Brixton, but we’ll go into it full of confidence, with a game plan and hopefully we can secure that elusive Cup final win.’
The U13’s are back in League action this weekend alongside the U15’s as Hayes and Ealing Vikings make their first trip to New River for 2015.

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