Skolars earn a point from visit by Doncaster
- Credit: Phil Hutchinson/UK Sports Pics Ltd
Skolars earned a point against promotion-chasing Doncaster, despite being without player coach Jermaine Coleman after he failed a fitness test.
The game was Skolars’ annual Friday Night Lights game and end in a 16-16 draw.
It was played the evening before the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley and a good contingent of that crowd were entertained on a hot night.
Doncaster took an early lead after Ben Johnson broke the defence 20 metres out, Sam Smeaton supporting to finish the move.
Skolars levelled the scores with a similar move, this time Neil Thorman backing up to touchdown after Jacob Thomas edged past the defence.
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With Abevia Mcdonald coming into the side for Coleman and making his first team debut, having come up through Skolars’ junior sides, Doncaster started by putting him under pressure with kicks to his wing.
However, he showed why he is in the Jamaican train-on squad taking the ball well and showing great pace including one run to half-way that the Dons did well to stop. Their kicking strategy changed after that.
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Skolars took the lead when Thomas moved the ball out to the right, Aaron Small forcing his way through the defence. Two penalties in quick succession saw Doncaster put pressure on at the other end, but Smeaton lost the ball close to the line.
A high tackle on Jacob Thomas, five metres from the Don’s line, saw tempers flare late in the half. The hooter sounded before the officials had consulted, the referee awarding a penalty, which Neil Thorman slotted over to give his side a 12-6 lead at the break. Doncaster would not have been worrying at that point, having turned a similar deficit in the game at the Keepmoat into a 40 point win.
However, Londoners extended the lead with another Thorman penalty. Doncaster narrowed the gap when Matty Beharrell floated a long pass out to the left for Sam Doherty, though those in the stand in line with the action felt it was forward. Beharrell’s conversion hit the posts; a miss that turned out to be important.
Tempers flared again when Jerome Yates mistimed his challenge on Ben Howe he went for a high ball in attack. The full-back joined the attacking line on the right to touchdown in the resulting set. This time Beharrell’s kick was successful putting the Dons into the lead for the first time in the match.
Whilst Skolars were regularly having to start their sets within 10 metres of their own line, Doncaster were piling on the pressure when they enjoyed possession, but Skolars’ defence kept holding out. Smeaton went closest, taking the ball from dummy half on the last tackle, but couldn’t get through. Skolars once again had to kick from their own half at the end of the next set, but a late shot on Thomas saw a penalty given where the ball landed and Thorman wasn’t going to miss from ten metres out.
In the last five minutes, Doncaster had two drop-goal chances, the first was charged down, the second going wide and Skolars were relieved to have ended a home losing run going back to June 2019. They have a chance to go one better this Saturday when they take on West Wales Raiders, the side they beat back then.