A night at the cricket watching Essex Eagles lose their T20 quarter final left me feeling less than perfect (no, not self-inflicted!). With only 3 home games remaining and 1 of those coinciding with my trip up North I stayed in bed all morning then made my way to Enfield. It has to be said Skolars have produced some varying performances and I hoped this trip would be a worthwhile one! I wasn’t disappointed; for one thing the Roughyed fans are always a delight!
It was to be the visitors who opened the scoring after Ben Wood; who my notes tell me is, huge, was held up; Skolars had an issue that has reared its head time and again this season when they then tackled allowing the ball carrying arm to be free, Adam Clay took the ball and scored. With a mere 3 minutes on the clock the Roughyeds had a 4 point lead as the kick was missed. Skolars had a 2nd set as they attacked after a high kick was dropped by Oldham; the ball was then dropped in the tackle by Skolars. The referee seemed to be unaware during the whole game that when the ball is knocked on play can continue for the team benefitting; he blew his whistle straight away in spite of the fact that Oldham had a good attacking opportunity. A break by Ste Cooper moments later was however rewarded after he kicked the ball across the pitch to Mo Agoro who went over the line to score. The kick was a hard one and was missed. Cooper and Agoro combined for the next try a mere 2 minutes later as Cooper threw another dummy to break through, his pass to Agoro saw him score his 2nd try. Lewis Palfrey added the extras to stretch the lead to 14 nil for the Roughyeds.
There was a slight feeling of déjà vu and a worry that Oldham would run away with things. But Will Lovell had other ideas, as he scored a great try straight from a scrum won by Skolars from the kick off. Courtney Davies kicked the conversion successfully. Tely Pelo proved that whatever Lovell could do he could do as he was next on the scorecard, using his strength to touchdown between the posts; Skolars had spread the ball as they attacked, resulting in an entertaining try. Pelo converted his own try closing the gap to 2 points. Ryan McDonald appeared to replace Dave Williams and made his mark as soon as he appeared; I find myself very unsure of his action as he takes a tackle, it often looks as if he leads with his elbow, but on this occasion Oldham were penalised as they tackled him. John Paxton went close for Skolars and a 2nd set was won after Agoro was held in goal as he took the kick.
Mike Bishay kicked the ball during the next set, collecting the ball as it came back towards him, the home fans were shouting for 6 more as Bishay passed to Will Lovell who went in to score his 2nd try! There was a small confusion as the ‘commentator’ announced that Ant Cox had scored the try; quite hard to do from the bench! I think Ant would have been happy to take the points; Will not so keen! The kick was missed but Skolars went into the lead for the 1st time in the game. That lead was stretched after Illiess Macani ran virtually the whole length of the pitch to score, Mo Agoro made a very good attempt at chasing him down but didn’t quite make it to the delight of the home crowd! Courtney Davies scored the 2 points to take the lead to 8 points. That lead was to be narrowed before half time however after Adam Clay took a pass on the wing, Macani turned sinner this time as he failed to tackle his man allowing him to sail in and score. The teams went in with the scores on London Skolars 22 Oldham 20 after a great conversion from Ste Roper.
Skolars have been vulnerable at times after half time and this game was to prove no exception! Josh Crowley scored for Oldham virtually from the kick off, the conversion put the visitors ahead. Skolars were again guilty of forgetting to tackle man and ball allowing a pass to get away to Danny Langtree, the conversion again stretched the lead. Things seemed to be running away from the home team, but Skolars won the ball from the kick off, they went close to scoring but the ball was knocked on. Illiess Macani showed his skill under the high ball after a good kick through; it’s always a joy to see a full back leap salmon like in the air to take the ball safely. The next passage of play can really only be described as error strewn as both teams knocked on and gave away penalties.
Danny Yates was the provider of the next score as he broke through the Oldham line, in a move reminiscent of Rob Burrows, Mufaro Mvududu was running on his shoulder and was in the perfect position to take the ball, he ran in to score. Courtney Davies added the extras. Oldham were to have the last word in what was a very entertaining game of rugby league, with possible the best try of the afternoon. Mo Agoro ran virtually the length of the pitch, evading a couple of Skolars tacklers to score his hat trick try, the conversion took the final score to London Skolars 28 Oldham Roughyeds 38. A deserved bonus point for the home team and it has to be said a deserved win for the visitors. On a light note the Oldham fans won the singing contest too, a great, friendly set of fans, they went home happy!