Match report: DONCASTER 70 LONDON SKOLARS 22 at Eco Power Stadium

7th September 2022


AFTER leading late in the first half, Skolars’ defence was ripped apart as they fell to a heavy defeat in their final game of the season, that saw 46 points scored in each half.

Skolars started well, having an early opportunity to attack after a Dons’ error close to their line. The visitors moved the ball from the scrum to the blindside, Leighton Bal running onto a Jacob Thomas kick to score. Lameck Juma was stopped short of the line soon after.

However, Jason Tali broke two tackles to put Doncaster deep in Skolars’ half and with the defence on the backfoot, Leon Ruan split the defence to open his side’s scoring. Skolars regained the lead when the Dons left a Phil Lyon kick into the in-goal area, Matt Ross just getting the ball down before it went dead and extended it  when Anthony Cox crashed through from five metres out.

Dave Peterson did well to take a Thomas kick and then raced to the half-way line, his side then earning a penalty. He almost finished off the nest set, but was held over the tryline. The Dons narrowed the gap when Tali weaved his way to the tryline

The visitors enjoyed a piece of luck for their fourth try, Lyon’s chip from a couple of metres out ricocheting off the defence and back into his hands. 

Two tries late in the first half gave a hint of what was to come. Tali slipped the ball inside to Misi Taulapapa and three minutes later, Ben Johnstone threw two dummies before offloading to Sam Smeaton with Connor Robinson’s conversion giving his side a slender lead.

The second half was even in the early stages, but Doncaster’s determination to chase for points was evidenced when Tali ran 30 metres sideways in his in-goal area to avoid conceding a goal-line drop-out. A break and dummy from Robinson was finished off by Travis Corion, the first of eight tries in the last 30 minutes. Johnson added the next try before a fine break by Greg Burns, who offloaded to his threequarter who then passed back to the hooker to score.Corion then broke from halfway before releasing Aaron Ollett-Hobson.

It took a good tackle by Jarred Bassett stopped Jack Sanderson, but the rest of the defence was still getting back as Sam Smeaton raced over. It was a team effort for the next try, swinging the ball across the field before Sanderson found a gap out wide. The next try was easier as a gap opened in the middle of the field for Ross Whitmore to score with ten minutes remaining and the 51 points target now looked a real possibility, 

However, Skolars managed to hold the next attack and a good run by Juma gave Skolars a rare chance to attack. Jarrad Bassett’s try scoring run came to an end as he was bundled into touch and Doncaster attacked again with Johnson touching down out on the right. Robinson missed a conversion after eleven successes, so falling just short of gaining that home advantage in the play-offs.

The final hooter also saw the retirement of Neil Thorman after 21 seasons and over 400 games, 119 of them for Skolars. Both sides formed a guard of honour for his final game, having made his debut for his native Gateshead in 2002.



  1 Misi Taulapapa

  2 Jack Sanderson

  3 Sam Smeaton

  4 Jason Tali

  5 Travis Corion

  6 Ben Johnston

  7 Connor Robinson

  8 Jose Kenga

  9 Greg Burns

10 Dean Roberts

11 Aaron Ollett-Hobson

12 Leon Ruan

13 Loui McConnell


14 Dave Petersen

15 Ross Whitmore

16 Alex Holdstock

17 Brondan Wilkinson

Tries: Ruan (12), Tai (26), Taulapapa (36), Smeaton (30,64), Corion (50), Johnson (54,76), Burns (59), Ollett-Hobson (61), Sanderson (66), Whitmore (70)

Goals: Robinson 11/12


  1 Jarred Bassett

  2 Leighton Ball

  3 Jacob Thomas

  4 Aaron Small

20 Jerome Yates

 6 Alex Deery

  7 Phil Lyon

10 Harry Kaufman

  9 Neil Thorman

  8 Christian Gale

12 Lameck Juma

11 Luciano Benjanidze

13 Matt Ross

Subs (all used)

22 Anthony Cox

14 Shane Hurley

21 Sam Welliings

15 Liam O’Callaghan

Tries: Ball (4), Ross (14), Cox (20), Lyon (31)

Goals: Lyon 3/4

Penalty: 7-5

Half-time: 24-22

Referee: Michael Mannifield

Att: 1,105

SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-4, 6-4, 6-10, 6-16, 12-16, 12-22, 18-22, 24-22: 3-22, 36-22, 42-22, 48-22, 54-22, 60-22, 66-22, 70-22

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