London Skolars 20 – 20 Oldham RLFC

Date published: Monday, April 23, 2012

WE were a bit off colour at the New River Stadium in North London yet despite injuries to back-row pair Paul Noone and Paul Smith we managed to salvage a couple of precious league points with a late try by Miles Greenwood to earn the draw.

We led, in fact, from the 29th minute to the 75th, scoring four tries to the home side’s three and showing a lot of spirit to snatch the draw after going behind to a Dylan Skee try with only five minutes left on the clock.
Graham Holroyd’s long restart kick found touch-in-goal so we got the ball back for Miles to score the equalising try wide out. Jamie Dallimore’s attempt at a winning conversion off the touchline was narrowly wide of the mark and in the dying seconds Holroyd tried a drop goal under pressure and that, too, went close, but not close enough from the Oldham perspective.
So it ended all square, although our coach Tony Benson felt it was a point lost rather than two gained, given that he felt it would have been a different story if we had completed our sets instead of surrendering a lot of possession and conceding penalties in the crucial period just after half-time.
Skolars were off to a strong start, going eight points up in the first 13 minutes before we took charge of the second quarter of the game to score 16 points in the run-up to half-time with an opening try by Greenwood, two more by Alex Thompson and a couple of Dallimore conversions.
Despite losing Paul Smith with a hamstring injury in the first few minutes, battling against a strong wind and being under the cosh for long periods we looked to be in a good position when turning round with an eight-point lead and use of the wind still to come.
In the event the gale blew itself out during the break and there was no advantage to speak of when the game resumed.
The second half began in much the same way as the first, Skolars getting four penalties in a row to put us under a lot of pressure. It took them only seven minutes to cut our lead to two points with a Martyn Smith try from dummy half close to the line which Skee goaled.
We continued to struggle for the rest of the half and the task wasn’t made any easier when we lost Nooney with a serious ankle injury.
We were constantly on the defensive and although we tackled and worked with spirit and determination, Skolars had so much ball and good field position that they were always likely to score again. The final penalty count was 11-4 in favour of the home side, but they also had head and feed at 11 of the 16 scrums, another indication of how often we made mistakes in possession.
The next try came when Skee got in from close range and added the goal to put Skolars 20-16 ahead with only five minutes left and to ignite the frantic finish in which we snatched the draw with Greenwood scoring on a final pass from Graham Holroyd.
It was the debut-making Holroyd’s delicate little chip into the in-goal area which fashioned Thompson’s second try in a performance which pleased the boss, especially so as it was the new signing’s first game of rugby league for more than a year.
Oldham scorers: — goals, Dallimore (2); tries, Greenwood (2), Thompson (2).
Skolars: Anthony; Paxton, Price, Ridley, Adebisi; McLean, Skee; Thomas, Thorman, Williams, Hopkins, Warrincy, Bate. Subs: Aggrey, Purslow, Smith, Roach.
Oldham: Greenwood; Onyango, Fogarty, McCully, Robinson; Holroyd, Dallimore; Boults, M Roden, Clarke, Noone,Smith, Bentley. Subs: Syron, Thompson, Ellison, Ward.
Referee: J Cobb; Att: 492.