Andrew Jackson’s The Story Of Friday Night Lights: Part 2

26th May 2022

By ANDREW JACKSON

AFTER Workington Town had been the opposition for the first Friday Night Lights game in 2006, their local Cumbrian rivals were the visitors in 2012. The opposition coach for both games was Ged Stokes.

Skolars needed a win to keep their play-off hopes alive (they ended up missing out by two points) and with four automatic promotion spots available, a win for Whitehaven would give them a good chance of going up (they finished fourth).

Neil Thorman scored for Skolars after just two minutes.

They led 18-12 at half-time, going further ahead when Brad Hopkins, their leading try score that season, touched down.

A Skee 40-20 gave Skolars another chance to attack straightaway, Rob Thomas crashing over the tryline. Two Skee penalties and a Thorman drop goal put Skolars 23 points ahead, but they had to withstand a late burst from the visitors, the final score being 41-26.

It was Skolars’ first win in Friday Night Lights games.

The following afternoon saw Warrington Wolves win their third Challenge Cup in four seasons, beating Leeds 35-18, the third defeat in three seasons in the final for the Rhinos.

In 2014, the Friday Night Lights game was played at Enfield FC with the New River pitch being unavailable for most the season.

Hunslet Hawks were the visitors. Hunslet had signed 33-year-old Richard Moore that week just ahead of the transfer deadline and he played the full 80 minutes, creating havoc in the Skolars’ defence.

Five different try scorers in the first half saw Skolars trail 0-30 at half-time.

Two tries by Mufaro Mvududu narrowed the deficit slightly, but a 10-36 defeat meant Skolars had won just one game all season at their temporary home.

Leeds Rhinos beat Castleford Tigers 23-10 in the Challenge Cup final the following afternoon.

Hunslet were again the opposition in 2019; the game at New River was a far closer affair than the one game five years before.

The visitors took the lead through Via Halafihi but then Skolars scored three tries, only for Hunslet to pull level 18 apiece at half-time. The visitors were again the first to score in the second half, this time through Mike Emmett, but a second try for Jordan Williams and one for Richard Wilkinson saw Skolars take the lead.

Mike Bishay took over the kicking duties from Neil Thorman and his penalty put Skolars six points ahead. When Simon Brown converted Callum Lancaster’s try for the visitors it was level again.

The last eight minutes saw Skolars looking for a drop-goal, but Hunslet were always alert and were quick to block each of the attempts.

In contrast, even when they had a seven tackle set Hunslet couldn’t get close enough for a meaningful attempt for a one-pointer, until a dramatic final minute.

Skolars’ fourth drop-goal attempt was charged down by Callum Lancaster, who raced downfield, but was brought down inches from the line by Omari Caro.

After two drives, the ball went back to Simon Brown, who was well placed to go for a drop-goal, but, as the defence raced to block him, he swung the ball to the right and Gareth Potts scored in the corner, after consultations between the referee
and his touch judge, the final score being 30-34.

The 2019 Challenge Cup final saw Warrington Wolves defeat 18-4, making them the most successful side in the competition since the return to Wembley in 2007 with four wins.


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