London Skolars suffer defeat to North Wales on return to league action

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 L

When London Skolars lost their opening league game of the 2020 season against North Wales Crusaders, few would have suspected that it would be over 14 months before their next league game.

Unfortunately, the result was a similar 44-22 defeat despite a strong start to the game.

Skolars forced an early goal-line drop-out and found a gap in the defence, but Mike Greenhalgh’s try was ruled out for obstruction.

Two penalties in rapid succession saw them attack again. This time Greenhalgh went over from close range.

They put more pressure on the Crusaders, who conceded a penalty 45 metres out. Skolars decided to kick for goal with a strong wind behind, but Omari Caro’s effort went wide.

Their next attack saw Mike Bishay try a chip kick but it was taken by Brad Brennan, and the prop started a counterattack with Crusaders passing the ball quickly out to the right for Patrick Ah Van to score in the corner.

Skolars used the wind to force the visitors to start their sets close to the own line, but twice conceding penalties for high shots on the first tackle.

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North Wales made the most of their attacking opportunities with Jordan Gibson splitting the defence close to the line.

As the scrum-half was about to score, a despairing tackle by Caro was adjudged high, leading to a penalty, following Brad Billsborough’s conversion putting Crusaders eight points into the lead.

After Ah Van made a break, North Wales moved the ball back infield for Gibson to score his second just before half-time.

The second half saw another early goal-line drop-out, but this time it was Skolars who had to kick.

Neil Thorman kicked high and short and Jacob Thomas won the ball back for them.

A penalty then helped them move downfield, but a poor pass was intercepted by Ben Morris and North Wales counterattacked with Ah Van going over unopposed.

Thorman again used his experience to kick high and short into the wind from the kick-off, and again Skolars won possession. 

North Wales added their fifth try through Jono Smith, who was unstoppable from ten metres out. Three minutes later Smith’s pass found Rob Massom in space to put them further ahead.

Kam Pearce-Paul stopped the flow of tries, racing onto a Thomas grubber, but Crusaders advance upfield with ease on their next set for former Super League star Ah Van to complete a hat-trick.

Rob Oakley scored in his debut on loan from Broncos after a strong run, adding his second after Kam Pearce-Paul’s break.

However, Skolars again conceded a try in the final minute of the half with Earl Hurst running onto a Gibson kick.