London Skolars stung by slender Rochdale Hornets loss

Illies Macani finds a gap for London Skolars

Illies Macani finds a gap for London Skolars - Credit: Archant

For the second week running London Skolars came tantalisingly close to a win, in a 38-34 loss to Rochdale which was all the more remarkable as they played a man down for the last hour of the game.

They got off to a bad start, losing possession when receiving the kick-off, and Paul Brearley strode over to open the scoring before his pass opened a gap for Dan Nixon three minutes later.

Then Sean Penckywicz’s pass made good use of the post splitting the defence trying to reach Jordan Syme and Hornets were 18 points up.

However, Penkywicz was sin-binned along with Aaron Small for their part in a fight and two minutes later Skolars were down to 11 when Kam Pearce-Paul was red-carded, dropping off a two-man tackle whilst the Rochdale player had been lifted in the air.

Skolars began their comeback when Mal Lloyd-Jones broke the defensive line to score, then Max Clarke dived in at the right corner.

When Shaun Ainscough was stopped by two defenders 20 metres out, Hornets’ move looked to have petered out, but Skolars failed to clamp the ball, Brearley racing up to receive the ball to score his second try.

Paul Thorman kicked a penalty after the hooter to reduce the deficit back to 10 points.

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Skolars narrowed the gap soon after the break, Mike Greenhaigh collecting a short Neil Thorman pass, the conversion hitting the posts. The same thing happened to Reece Dean after Penkywicz slipped the ball out to Tom Ashton.

It was back and forth throughout the second half as Tom Firth, returning after a month out, took a short pass from Christian Gale. At the other end, Pencywicz again delivered the crucial pass, this time to Luke Fowden.

Juma broke from his own half, Rochdale then had to defend a goal-line drop out. When Skolars received a penalty 10 metres out, Thorman took it quickly, offloading to Lamont Bryan who was unstoppable from that range.

Hornets had to work hard to get out of their own half, with five tackles taking them 12 metres from their line, but Dean’s kick went 80 metres and Skolars then had to start from deep in their half.

Myles Harrison took a high ball close to Hornets’ line, but broke the defence and Luke Littlewood continued the break to score, Dean again hitting the post.

There was still a slim hope for Skolars when Juma went over with two minutes to go, but they lost the ball on the next set and Hornets held on to stay in play-off contention.

Skolars travel to Hunslet next Sunday.