Skolars Under 16’s cap extraordinary season with finals victory.

26th July 2018

Skolars 20 – Brentwood Eels 12

u16 victory

London Skolars U16’s capped a monumental 2018 season with a 20-12 victory in a pulsating clash against Brenwtood Eels. The Skolars youngsters have been on an extraordinary journey this season; 10 of the current 30 man squad have been together since U10’s providing the back bone of the team today.

In the regular season the boys from New River Stadium finished top of the table amongst 9 quality teams in the South. With 7 victories from 8 and just one loss to Hemel Stags the Skolars accumulated 14 points out of a possible 16 with 322 points scored and only against. Alongside the regular season, the squad performed superbly in two 9-aside events, being the only side to field two teams in each of the competitions.

The Grand Final was held on Saturday 21st July at Ealing Trailfinders, the home of London Broncos on a red-hot 32c day in West London. Joint head coaches Paul Quill, and new this season, Nick Padgett, assembled a squad that would come to dominate the division. Packed full of Broncos and Saracens Academy standard players and with an average pack weight of over 16 stone a man, it was always going to be tough for a quality Brentwood side. The Eels were deserved finalists finishing second to the Skolars by 1 point in the league followed by a convincing win over Hemel in the semis. However, Skolars fire power was shown by having a league points for of 178 v Brentwood’s 70, but the stage was set for a classic.

Skolars took to the field without their star hooker, Kayne Chan-Kitchener, who switched from Saracens Academy to star for the club this season and his season long performances suggest a player who will make the transition from junior into the Skolars first tea. A hugely committed individual, Kayne was due to travel for a once in a life time trip to Borneo on the Saturday morning. However his Dad Nick Padgett, who was also due on holiday delayed his trip to Scotland, to be with the lads and see it through to the end. Other omens were against Skolars when Brentwood beat Hemel in extra time by a golden point try in the U14s final immediately before the U16s final.

From the kick-off Skolars looked strong. Great runs from Jevaughan Warren and Samson in the forwards rocked the Eels forwards on their heels. The ‘Bowling ball’  Kaylum Lewin continually bust holes and the inevitable happened when Samson powered over and went in under the posts. Tommy Fraine landed the extras. Skolars from the kick off again powered downhill. Substitute Cameron Giwa-McNeil added some significant bulk and ran over several of the Eels players. Some smart play from hooker Fraine and mercurial half back Alex Deery set up Warren to power over. Fraine struck the posts for the extras and Skolars now led by 10.

Brentwood the started to apply some pressure. Skolars bravely defended their lines and repelled several attacks. Deery was notable in defence making several important last-ditch tackles. The Eels weren’t to be held back for too long and got over on the back of solid forward runs and then spreading the ball out wide to score. Conversion was missed.

Half time 10 – 4

Second half was always going to be a challenge as it was up hill on a very hot day. Added to this was that unlike regular games through the season there was no drinks break at the quarter ends so both teams had to power through the fatigue generated by the heat.

The Eels were receiving from the kick off and immediately pressed using the slope to their advantage. The Skolars defence was strong and some bone rattling hits were being dished out by the much bigger Skolars pack. Skolars worked hard to hold out the Eels and caused several turn overs. Dylan Jimini, the Trojan like Joe Connolly and the ever-energetic Joe Hurding were most notable in defence. Jimini made significant yards from picking up from the base of the scrum and charging like a stallion at the Eels defenders who needed 2 or 3 in the tackle every time in order to stop his progress. This gave a great platform for the team and the ball was spun out wide, fast hands, and dancing feet Tommy Laing through a nice shimmy and dummy and scored out wide on the right. Metronomic Fraine converted.

The Eels still had lots of fight in them with the officials penalising Skolars aggressive style giving several penalties in a row that allowed the Eels to piggy back their progress down the field. This led to significant pressure on the Skolars line and a long pass out wide broke the heroic defensive line and the Eels pulled a score back. Again, the kick was missed. Score was now 16 – 8.

The success of this last score and the referee’s strict interpretations of high tackles and laying on gave the Eels some great momentum. Again, working their way down the pitch to pressure the Skolars line. Some solid defensive work from Captain Luciano Bejanidze managed to pull off several last-ditch tackles alongside great work from Hurding, but eventually the dam burst and Eels pulled it back with a well worked try again out wide. Again, the kick was missed but the score was narrowed to 16 – 12.

This however spurred the Skolars into action. Coaches Quill and Padgett pulled the strings by bringing on Jude Schoeman, Rohan Phlora and Thomas Quill who all provided some valuable energy. From an Eels attack Liam Scott pulled off a great two-person tackle with Stuart Patterson that dislodged the ball from an Eels players grasp and caused a turnover. Skolars worked their way up the pitch and put pressure on the Eels in their 20. Skolars were awarded a penalty and attacked the Eels line. After a few probing runs Fraine provided quick ball to Isaak Nathan who superbly shipped it to Hurding who gave a wonder ball to Giwa-McNeil who brushed off  a couple of defenders to score to the left of the posts. Reliable Fraine added the extras.

The Eels had a few more chances to make in roads into the Skolars defence but the Skolars remained stellar in defence and remained in total control. The lads had a few half chances but saw out the game to take it relatively comfortably against a top class and sporting Brentwood.

And as the referees whistle heralded the end of the game the proud Skolars lads celebrated and in a fine show of sportsmanship Joel Aggus, renowned as a great club man, ran over to one of the disconsolate Ells players and gave him a hug to console him.

With a gutsy, resilient, committed and dominant display in the final that replicated the performances throughout the season, the future for the Skolars junior programme and players shines brighter than ever.

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