GLOUCESTERSHIRE ALL GOLDS 22 – 24 LONDON SKOLARS
Words: Chris Wilson
Picture: Glenn Watts/GWpix
London Skolars maintained their winning run at the Prince of Wales stadium thanks to two late drop goals from Charlie Lawrence in a tense final few minutes.
Skolars had won their four appearances in Cheltenham but trailed 16-4 midway through the first half and the All Golds took a ten point lead into the break after they recovered from an early Skolars score to take control.
Mike Brown’s first try opened the scoring after three minutes as he broke Mo Agoro’s tackle to score in the corner. However, the All Golds responded and Steve Parry went over for his 50th try for the All Golds, as usual from close range after a good kick-chase had won a goalline dropout.
Kieran Hyde’s goal gave the home side the lead and his kick to the corner for Agoro to score reather too easily for the Skolars’ liking.
The All Golds then scored on their next set, Phil Cowburn slicing through to send Joe McClean under the posts.
Brown closed the gap with his second score following a superb run by Jake Melling who broke three tackles on a 30-metre run to give Brown his score.
Lawrence added the goal but, just before the break, Agoro scored after a neat interchange of passes between Billy Brickhill and Jay Lobwein sent him over.
The second half took a while to get into gear but the Skolars took control of the game in the third quarter with tries from Louis Robinson and Sadiq Adebiyi both powerful efforts and both under the posts giving Lawrence two goals and the Skolars a two point lead.
All Golds coach Lee Greenwood was unhappy with his side’s performance after the break. “The second half was pretty poor really,” he said. “We know what Skolars are about and what they are good at and what they do and we couldn’t combat it at all.
“I thought their middles totally got on top of ours in the second half and we weren’t smart enough to do anything about it really.”
The All Golds had their chances. Jay Lobwein failed to gather Hyde’s kick to the posts for what would have been a six-pointer but for the Skolars, Sam Nash similarly couldn’t control the ball after Lawrence’s kick eluded Chris Barlow.
Back to back penalties gave Hyde the chance to level the scores with a two-pointer with ten minutes left before Lawrence stepped up to cap a strong drive with his first drop goal and a 23-22 lead.
Parry lost the ball over the line as he burrowed for a try before Lawrence repeated the trick to extend the Skolars’ lead to two points. In the last minute, he hit the post with what would have been a remarkable hat-trick of kicks but he had already edged his side over the line.
ALL GOLDS: Phil Cowburn; Mo Agoro, Billy Brickhill, Steve Nield, Chris Barlow; Daniel Fallon, Kieran Hyde; Harry Kidd, Steve Parry (C), James Walter; Harrison Elliott, Joe McClean, Chris Worrall; Subs: Jay Lobwein, Paddy Jones, Ollie Purslow, Malikhi Lloyd Jones.
Tries: Parry (9), Agoro (14, 38), McClean (17)
Goals: Hyde 3 from 5
SKOLARS: Jake Melling; Sam Nash, Josh Allison, Kameron Pearce-Paul, Michael Brown; Jermaine Coleman, Charlie Lawrence; Callum Bustin, Ben Pointer, Simona Vavega; Eddie Mbaraga, Lamont Bryan; Ryan Chester. Subs: Billy Driver, Louis Robinson, Michael Sykes, Sadiq Adebiyi.
Tries: Brown (3, 24), Robinson (54), Adebiyi (59)
Goals: Lawrence 3 from 4
Drop goals: Lawrence (73, 78)
0-4, 6-4, 10-4, 16-4, 16-10, 20-10, 20-16, 20-22, 22-22, 22-23, 22-24
Penalty count: 5-10
Referee: Nick Bennett