Abbott Reflects on London Skolars Friendly
February 5, 2023
Head coach Mike Abbott says there were ‘bucket loads of positives’ to emanate from the friendly hit out against London Skolars on Saturday.
The behind closed doors practice match took place at a neutral venue – Oaklands, home of North Bristol RFC with Cornwall fielding an experimental side which included several debutants both for the club and in the 13-player code too.
Cornwall’s cause was not helped with both Nathan Cullen and Josh Hartshorne suffering injuries during the warm-up and as a precaution, the former took no part in proceedings whilst Hartshorne played considerably less minutes than expected.
But the injuries gave chances for all of Abbott’s squad to impress with rugby union convert George Mitchell catching the eye with a powerful 80 minute showing. Reece Boase, another debutant, carried ‘like a steam train’ according to the Mem chief who was left feeling positive after his side’s opening 80 minutes of 2023.
“All through our pre-season we have talked about being positive and I thought there were bucket loads of positives from the game against London Skolars,” Abbott told cornwallrlfc.co.uk.
“It’s an old cliche, but I’m going to use it and it’s relevant to where we are that the result isn’t overly important. I’m not too downbeat that we ultimately came off on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
“We play as a group and whether we win or lose, we do it together and the lads stuck to those principles on Saturday. We went to Bristol with a dead 17 and then lost Nathan in the warm-up with Josh also suffering an injury. It isn’t anything too serious, but that meant lads had to play big minutes.
“George Mitchell played the entire 80 and was outstanding whilst Paul Bolger put in a big shift which will benefit him going forward. Reece Boase had been abroad last week and he only landed at Bristol Airport two hours before the game.
“He ran the ball like a steam train before he was forced off with an ankle knock. We hope that it is just a knock because his rugby league debut was really, really encouraging.”
During the opening 40 minutes of a full blooded affair, Cornwall didn’t register on the scoreboard despite dominating possession and territory. The Choughs were, however, denied what on another day could have been four scores due to marginal calls from merry whistle blower Kristoff Young.
Wing duo Nick Slaney and Jermarie Chatham were those in black and gold that were denied and at the other end of the field, Jack Ryan, Aaron Smalls and Louis O’Sullivan scored for the capital outfit.
With one successful conversion landed, London, against the run of play, led 16-0 at the break.
In the second stanza, Cornwall were rewarded for their enterprising attacking play with scores from Chatham, Jack Ray and Coby Nichol with Adam Rusling knocking over one goal.
London did manage another score of their own to lead 20-14 going into the closing stages before referee Young incorrectly awarded the Skolars an eight-point try.
Continuing London’s fortune with the referee, half-back Shane Lee also somehow escaped without caution for a reckless elbow on Jake Lloyd and one further try resulted in Joe Mbu’s men prevailing 32-14.
“It was good to have some proper contact in a game,” Abbott added. “We have to remember that London have already played one match but we have got another friendly behind closed doors lined up next weekend.
“We remained disciplined and although at times we were a bit clunky, that was to be expected and I know the lads will be looking to progress forward in the next game. Due to the injuries we had players playing a bit out of position but I’m happy where we are as a group.”