London Skolars play their part in a historic day for rugby league
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London Skolars played their part in a historic day for rugby league – but won’t want to look at the record books too often.
The Kingstone Press League One game at New River on Saturday was the first ever league match played by a Canadian side and the first from any country outside of England, Wales and France.
And they obviously raised their game to match the occasion, picking up a 76-0 win over a shell-shocked Skolars.
Toronto are playing the opening two months of the season in the UK before their first home game in May and the structure of the competition means that Skolars won’t get a trip across the Atlantic, unless the sides meet in the Super 8s at the end of the season.
With a squad that would be capable of competing in the league above, the scoreline was not unexpected. Though the game was one-sided, a record 1,542 crowd for the Skolars at a packed New River were entertained by the skills of the Wolfpack, especially the huge Tongan international prop Fuifui MoiMoi, who made a number of barnstorming runs.
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And the 37-year-old rolled back the years as he recorded a hat-trick.
Skolars went close early on though David Williams, but their captain went off injured soon afterwards with a disclocated shoulder. Mike Bishay also departed early with a fractured jaw, such was the intensity of the Toronto side.
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Skolars did have a chance to kick a penalty that would have got them on the scoreboard at just 18-0 down, but they chose to run it and could not get through the defence.
It was 34-0 at half-time in a game broadcast live on Premier Sports.
Skolars’ Canadian international Louis Robinson put in an extended stint against a Wolfpack side that is predominantly English.
The home side’s commitment against superior opposition was personified by Charlie Lawrence, who returned to the field with a heavily strapped ankle for the last 15 minutes and was clearly playing with discomfort, but carried on because Skolars had no more fit players to come on.
Toronto captain Craig Hall, who was playing Super League for Wakefield last year, scored the historic opening try and kicked 12 conversions to finish with a personal tally of 26 points.
Skolars now have to lift themselves for a tough trip to Newcastle Thunder on Sunday.
Skolars: Melling, Nash, Pearce-Paul, Brown, Winfield, Lawrence, Bishay, Sykes, Williams, Bryan, Vavega, Davis
Replacements: Robinson, Dollapi, Mbaraga, Driver
Toronto: Laulu-Togaga’e, Pownall, Worthington, Hall, Kay, Wallace, Jack, MoiMoi, Beswick, Emmitt, Davies, Laithwaite, Bussey
Replacements: Wheeler, Crossley, Sidlow, Whiting
Tries: Hall 7, Pownall 12, 58, MoiMoi 16, 45, 73, Beswick 26, Kay 29, 49, Dixon 36, Worthington 56, 71, Laula-Togaga’e 76
Goals: Hall 12 from 13
HT: London Skolars 0 Toronto Wolfpack 34
Referee: John McMullen