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London Skolars boost promotion hopes with Hemel Stags win
3:30pm Friday 20th September 2013 in Sport
London Skolars moved into the final eliminator of the play-offs after a first-half display which saw them score seven unanswered tries in their 44-28 win over Hemel Stags.
The Skolars will travel to Oldham on Sunday and the winners will take on Rochdale Hornets for the last promotion place into the Kingstone Press Championship.
However, Skolars will have to cope without their leading points scorer as Dylan Skee was stretchered off late in the game after breaking his ankle.
Skolars’ creativity allowed them to use possession well with runs from deep in their own half, often exposing the defence on both flanks. They were also dangerous in the middle with James Anthony running onto Skee’s short kick to score the first try.
Their second came three minutes later when Alex Hurst intercepted a Stags pass on his own 20m line and there was no stopping him from reaching the other end of the field. They forced a goal-line drop out from which they attacked again with Hurst scoring out wide on the right.
When Anthony scored his second try just before the half-hour mark, Skolars were well in control of the game. That try saw the full-back draw level with Mark Cantoni’s club record of 20 tries in a season.
After the Stags had won a scrum from the restart kick, they knocked on at the base of the scrum and Skolars took full advantage with Gareth Raynor cutting loose before Oscar Thomas scored down the left.
Hurst then completed his hat-trick before Rob Thomas powered over just before the break leaving Skolars in a commanding position.
With the wind supposedly in their favour, Skolars looked like they were going to really take control when Smokie Junor slid over in the right corner.
Skee’s fifth conversion saw him record a century of kicks for the season.
But the one-way traffic was halted in dramatic fashion. Mike Forgham caught a high kick 10m from his own line before weaving through the Skolars’ defence to race to the tryline to open the Stags’ scoring.
When Aiden Pritchard burst his way over the line a few minutes later, there was still an element of tension in the game, especially when Ash Fryson went close, just being bundled into touch close to the tryline.
Skolars’ next attack saw Skee injured and stretched off with his serious injury.
Hemel continued to mount a late comeback, starting to gain good yardage with regularity, creating an overlap for James Hill to score before Barry-John Swindells opened a huge gap in front of the posts to touch down.
A penalty for kicking the ball out dead from the restart saw the Stags attack again with Ben Young scoring this time.
Whilst it was still too late for a meaningful comeback, Skolars were concerned enough that they elected to go for two points for a late penalty with Oscar Thomas taking over the kicking duties from Skee.
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