Two sent-off as London Skolars lose to last-gasp Newcastle try
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London Skolars had an afternoon to forget as a last-second try denied them victory on their long trip to Newcastle Thunder.
Leading 22-18 with less than a minute remaining, Skolars somehow managed to conjure up a 24-22 defeat from out of nothing.
Despite having the ball in their hands, they conceded a penalty 10 metres from their own line when Simona Vavega struck-out at a defender following a tackle.
He was duly sent off and the hosts followed that up by moving the ball to the wing where Ali Blair tied the scores up as the hooter sounded.
Benn Hardcastle slotted the conversion to bring the victory and to make matters worse for the Skolars, Aaron Small also saw red after the final whistle for dissent.
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London had dominated the early going and taken the lead after just two minutes.
New signing Phil Lyon made found a gap at half-back and poped the ball to Sam Nash for the opening try.
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Lyon was having a fine day and it was his pressure that forced an error from a high kick, allowing Small to score the second.
Thunder responded with a Danny Nicklas scoot putting them close to the line and Brett Waller went over from short range.
Lyon kicked a penalty but then lost the ball from the restart and Nicklas scored a try of his own, this time dummying before cutting through the gap he’d opened in the defence.
Derrell Olpherts went over in the left corner three minutes later to make it 14-14 at half-time.
There was a scuffle between several players after the hooter with Aaron Small for Skolars and Hardcastle for Thunder both being yellow carded.
Skolars regained the lead with a Lyon penalty, but he went off soon afterwards with a damaged shoulder.
The lead changed when Blair edged his way past the defence in the corner but Skolars were soon back in front once more.
After an earlier 50 metre break, Lamont Bryan took a short pass from Matt Davis to score, Sam Nash taking over the kicking duties.
That seemed to be enough until the last play drama unfolded.
Skolars travel to Swinton Lions this weekend for a fourth round tie in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. A win could earn them a match against Super League opposition.
Thunder: Young, Blair, Craig, Olpherts, Fox, Niklas, Hardcastle, Barron, Simons, Kilday, Aldous, Clarke, McAvoy
Replacements: Teroi, Rennie, Waller, Luckley
Tries: Waller 28, Nicklas 36, Olpherts 39, Blair 54, 80
Goals: Hardcastle 2/5
Sin-bin: Hardcastle (40) - fighting
Skolars: Melling, Nash, Small, Pearce-Paul, Brown, Coleman, Lyon, Vavega, Davis, Bustin, Gee, Mbaraga, Chester
Replacements: Driver, Robinson, Dollapi, Bryan
Tries: Nash 2, Small 19, Bryan 67
Goals: Lyon 4/4, Nash 1/1
Sin-bin: Small (40) –fighting
Sendings-off: Vavega (80) – headbutt, Small (80) - dissent
Penalty count: 5-5
Half-time: Newcastle Thunder 14 London Skolars 14
Referee: Nick Bennett
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-6, 0-12, 6-12, 6-14, 10-14, 14-14, 14-16, 18-16, 18-22, 24-22