London Skolars 36 – Oldham 34

Date published: Monday, July 11, 2011

A LATE try by hooker Gareth Honor eight minutes from the end gave London Skolars a 36-34 win at The Stoop on Saturday, denied Oldham a fourth consecutive win and extended the London side’s winning sequence in home games to four — a club record.

Roughyeds, 30-12 down early in the second half, mounted a spirited fightback to take the lead at 34-30 with quarter of an hour left, but they couldn’t sustain the momentum and Honor became the Skolars match-winning hero when he scored from dummy half close to the line to give Dylan Skee his sixth conversion from six attempts.

Carl Forber landed his first five conversions for Oldham, but he kicked wide when attempting to convert his own try — Oldham’s sixth — and in the final analysis that was to prove the difference between the sides.

Roughyeds at least got a bonus point, but they will inevitably believe they could have had all three, given that they conceded several ‘soft’ tries against a Skolars team that didn’t need inviting twice to take the initiative.

The Londoners did the basics well and played with fantastic enthusiasm — similar in many ways to how Roughyeds had performed in the win against Whitehaven six days earlier — while Oldham looked off colour and off key apart from a purple patch in the second half when they got a roll on to score 22 unanswered points in the space of 16 exciting minutes.

That put them in front for the first time, but the lead lasted only a few minutes before Honor came up with his all-important try  — one of two Roughyeds conceded from dummy-half surges close to the line.

Roughyeds made a poor start, conceding tries by Skee and Adebisi in the first quarter of an hour, the London players capitalising on Oldham’s poor defending in each instance to put their side 12-0 up early on.

Rougheyds came back to level with tries by Luke Sutton and Valu Bentley, but Skolars regained their 12-point advantage by half time, scoring further tries by full-back James Anthony and sub Sam Gee in the run-up to half-time when they led 24-12.

The lead was stretched to 30-12 when Polish second-row man Jaroslaw Obuchowski crossed the Oldham line two minutes into the second half, but this was the signal for Oldham to rally and fight back, aided by a run of six penalties in a row.

John Gillam crossed in the corner; Mark Brocklehurst scored a gem of a solo try; Sutton crashed in and then Forber went through a gap to score, but failed to convert — his first failure.

Leading 34-30, Oldham scrambled superbly to deny Skolars after they charged down a kick to quickly convert defence into attack, but Roughyeds then had a great chance to increase their lead and, probably, to win the game.

They failed to take it and Skolars quickly got down to the other end where Honor broke Oldham hearts.

Scorers: Skolars, goals Skee (6); tries, Skee, Adebisi, Anthony, Gee, Obuchowski, Honor; Oldham, goals, Forber (5); tries, Sutton (2), Bentley, Gillam, Brocklehurst, Forber.

Skolars: Anthony; Small, Colleran, Arnot, Adebisi; Kriouache, Skee; Purslow, Honor, Ball, Obuchowski, Byran, Coleman; Subs: Aggrey, Gee, Mbu, Bloom.

Oldham: Heaton; Gillam, Brocklehurst, McCully, Robinson; N Roden, Forber; Boults, M Roden, Stenchion, Bravo, Noone, Bentley. Subs: Isherwood, Sutton, Clough, Casey.

Referee: W Turley.