U17’s Suffer Cup Final Heart-Break Again

2nd June 2015

The London Skolars U17’s saw their Cup dream snatched from their grasp this weekend as they were beaten 18-16 in the most dramatic of finals at Pennine Way, home of Hemel Stags against Brixton Bulls.
Their opponents Brixton Bulls had reached the final with a dramatic 2 point victory over Medway Dragons, whilst the Skolars pulled through from a tough first half to ease to a win over Charlton Gunners. With 13 London Broncos Scholarship players on show for the Brixton Bulls, the boys from N22 were under no illusions that this would be their toughest test yet and there was a nervous energy around the dressing room prior to kick off.
The opening 40 minutes was a very tight affair, with both teams playing some great Rugby League, both teams were matching each other physically and completing set for set, it became a real arm-wrestle of a contest. However it was the Skolars who struck first through impressive loose-forward Daniel Hindmarsh who touched down underneath the posts. He collected a beautifully weighted inside pass from winger Andrew Tilley, who scorched around his opposite man following some deft hands from Tom Hamer and Nicky Freeman. The score was converted by second rower Jerome Yates to give Skolars a 6-0 lead.

Skolars then lost Yates to a yellow card for a trip off the ball following a break down in play and the game got worse for Skolars as they conceded a soft try out wide following a period of sustained pressure from the Bulls. Down to 12 men and facing the rest of the half against an eager Brixton the adversity seemed to bring out the best in Skolars, as the forward pack stepped up and each player defended as if their lives depended on it. This increased effort from the 12 men of Skolars saw the rest of the half remain scoreless and they went into the break exhausted but still level.
Both teams upped the intensity after the break and there was some impressive hits on show, with prop Ben Woodward, hooker Alex Pentecost and replacement half-back Patrick Addison defending with vigour. However it was Brixton who took the lead and then extended it with 2 tries after a series of penalties awarded against London Skolars.
With the scoreline firmly in favour of Brixton at 16-6 it took an almighty effort from the Skolars to claw themselves back into the game. Fullback Jordan Rhoden forced himself over after some great runs from forwards Rodell Reid and Sam Glossop, the try was unconverted leaving Skolars at 16-10. Then came the try of the game as Jerome Yates made up for his yellow card in the first half, plucking a superb high kick out of the air with one hand and touching down under pressure from multiple Brixton defenders. Yates converted his own try to take the score to 16-16 and set up a grandstand finish.
The game turned into a real war of attrition with both teams producing some fantastic rugby league, which wouldn’t have looked out of place at a much higher level. Then came the moment that defined the match, with seconds left on the clock and Brixton camped on Skolars line, try scorer Yates flew out of the line to pressurise a 5th tackle kick and was too eager in his chase, taking out the kicker. A penalty was awarded in front of the posts, the referee consulted his linesman and an already distraught Yates was shown the red-card as he walked from the field, the Brixton half-back smashed his penalty straight through the uprights, sparking wild celebrations from the Bull’s bench as the final whistle sounded giving Brixton the win 18 points to 16.

Both teams were a credit to the London Junior League and the game could have gone either way. Skolars will be disappointed to lose in such a manner and now will focus their energies into reaching the Grand Final on July 25th, where we may well see a repeat of this epic final.

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