2nd February 2022

BetFred Challenge Cup Round 2 – 29th January 2022

London Skolars 40 London Chargers 22

With the Challenge Cup Final due to take place at Spurs in May, there was more than usual at stake in Skolars’ opening cup game. The game also marked the first all-London derby featuring a pro or semi-pro club in its 125 year history. Skolars commanded the first half against their rivals one level below the professional leagues to reach the third round.

Whilst Skolars’ preparations had been limited to pre-season training, the Chargers had enjoyed a first round win over Ellenborough under their belt. However, Skolars got off to a flying start with new half-backs Phil Lyon and Alex Deery combining to pass the ball out to the left for captain Aaron Small to open up the scoring. Small was one of just two players in the 17 who lined up in their last game of the 2021 season, Christian Gale being the other.

Lamont Bryan made several strong runs early on and with Jerome Yates making good yards each time he gathered Chargers’ kicks, Skolars piled on the pressure. A loose pass just after a goal-line drop-out saw Chargers’ defence out of position and Errol Carter found a gap to score on the right. They added a third try three minutes later when Yates came into the line on the left side. He nearly lost the ball after a strong hit just inside Chargers’ half, but just managed to regain control and Skolars again pushed the ball left for Luciano Bejandizde to score on his senior debut. That gave Lyon yet another difficult conversion on a blustery afternoon and that was his third miss in his first four attempts.

Skolars held out and extended their lead within a minute of the restart with Yates finishing off a Bryan break. When Deery raced onto a Lyon grubber Skolars were 30 nil up. However, Chargers fought back. Eric Simms cut through the middle of the defence to score under the posts. Then Tala Petelo broke from his own half, offloading for Caleb Adetona to score in the left corner.

Skolars’ steadied with Abevia McDonald finishing off a Yates break. Chargers kicked out on the full, but held out and then attacked with Adetona again touching down. Luke Townend scurried over for their fourth try, but then his side allowed Lyon’s kick-off to bounce in-goal. With Skolars taking possession from the drop-out they looked to score again. Sam Wellings, one of several players who have rejoined Skolars who played during Mbu’s previous time in charge, was held-up. Skolars moved the ball to the left, but when Lyon spotted the defence was well placed, he stopped, before making a well-flighted kick to the corner, with Shane Hurley plucking the ball out of the air to score. That calmness by Lyon came despite, his name being booed by his former club’s supporters each time it was announced. having rejoined Skolars from Chargers in the close season.

“There were lots of positives today” said Skolars’ coach Joe Mbu, who rejoined the club six years after his previous stint in charge. “The youngsters held up really well against a determined Chargers’ side and the two half-back were brilliant. With Errol Carter and Jerome Yates going off with injuries we had a few players out of position in the last quarter Chargers were able to take advantage.”


1 Jerome Yates

2 Abevia McDonald

3 Errol Carter

4 Aaron Small

5 Shane Hurley

6 Alex Deery

7 Phil Lyon

8 Christian Gale

9 Ryan Cane

10 Oliver Bloom

11 Luciano Bejandidze

12 Lamont Bryan

13 Liam O’Callaghan

Subs (all used)

21 Sam Wellings

14 Doug Chirnside

22 Anthony Cox

15 Kojo Korang

Tries: Small (8), Cater (18), Yates (21,41), Bejandidze (28), Deery (45), McDonald (59), Hurley (75)

Goals: Lyon 4/8


1 Nathan O’Connor

2 Caleb Adetona

3 George Lord

4 Siv Ratu

5 William Holt

6 Isaac Greene

7 Adam Simm

8 Eric Davidson

9 Eric Sims

10 Ade Aderiye

11 Edward Simmons

12 George Denham

13 David O’Connor

Subs (all used)

14 Luke Townend

15 Tala Petelo

16 Michael Chivers

17 Todd Peut

Tries: Sims (49), Adetona (53, 63), Townend (72)

Goals: N O’Connor 3/4

Penalty count: 4-7

Half-time: 18-0

Referee: Matt Rossleigh

SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 10-0, 14-0, 18-0; 24-0, 30-0, 30-6, 30-12, 36-12, 36-16, 36-22, 40-2

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