London Skolars return to action with a win

London Skolars - Team Photos at New River Sport & Fitness, White Hart Lane, England

London Skolars - Team Photos at New River Sport & Fitness, White Hart Lane, England - Credit: Phil Hutchinson/UK Sports Pics Ltd

London Skolars returned to action after almost fourteen months without a game with a narrow 38-36 win against fellow League 1 side West Wales in the first of two pre-season friendlies.

With such a long lay-off, Skolars’ coach Jermaine Coleman gave most of his squad a run-out with 27 different players being used.

New signing hooker Tom Firth opened the scoring in the second minute, slipping out of a couple of tackles before touching down.

After Raiders' Joe Burke had been shown a yellow card for a cannonball tackle, he added a second try, the defence falling for a dummy a foot from the line, with Omari Caro adding his second conversion.

They should have increased their lead had Mike Greenhalgh not obstructed his twin Judd.

Raiders were without new signing Gavin Henson, but their other high profile newcomer former England scrum-half Rangi Chase helped get his side into a good position with a quick tap penalty, before Dai Evans took a high kick from Fraser Stroud before passing to Stroud to touchdown on the right.

Evans then helped narrow the deficit to two points when he opened a gap on the right for Emosi Nadaubale to cross the line out wide, the winger managing to get the ball down under the sticks for an easy conversion for Will Ramsey.

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Another Skolars debutante scored their third try when Jonah Varela took advantage of an error from a kick. A long pass from Chase found Leighton Ball who raced 75 metres to touchdown.

Lamont Bryan’s try from close range saw Skolars go in 28-10 up at the break, with Neil Thorman having taken over the kicking duties.

The visitors scored early in the second half with Evans capitalising on a Skolars’ mistake from a Ramsey bomb. Mike Greenhalgh scored from dummy half for the home side before a quick passing move saw Evans go over for his second try.

After Iliess Macani had lost possession from a high kick, Ieuan Badham put his side six points behind with thirteen minutes to go. Macani made amends, trading passes with Kam Pearce-Paul for his side’s seventh try.

Chase’s good short pass to the left saw Charley Bodman go over on the right, but Ramsey’s kick was wide, leaving Raiders eight points adrift.

A Chase grubber saw Evans go over in the last minute but with time already up, the conversion could only reduce the defeat to two points.

Skolars have another friendly this weekend, with Coventry visiting New River, before the League 1 campaign starts on March, 8 when North Wales Crusaders are the opposition.