London Skolars 46 Cornwall RLFC 6 – Match Report
July 31, 2022
Cornwall were defeated 46-6 by a Jared Bassett inspired London Skolars side in round 17 of Betfred League 1.
It was something of a game of two halves for the Duchy outfit however as they led 6-0 with just six minutes to go in the first half.
However, led by Bassett and half back Phil Lyon, London scored twice before the break and they never looked back. The second period was a one-sided affair with the Skolars scoring six tries and 34 unanswered points.
The Choughs made the 560-mile round trip searching for a second win of 2022 with Memorial Ground chief Neil Kelly naming arguably his strongest team since their last triumph – 24-4 over West Wales Raiders on June 25.
There were six changes to the starting 13 which took to the field in Cornwall’s last outing – a 44-10 home reverse at the hands of Swinton Lions seven days ago.
Leading try scorer Harry Aaronson and hooker Nathan Conroy were unavailable while Matty Turton and Chris Chard dropped out of the matchday squad altogether.
Meanwhile, starting props from the Lions reverse Myles Tate and former Redruth rugby union man Brad Howe dropped to the interchange bench.
Jayden Myers and Decarlo Treise took Aaronson and Chard’s respective place on the flanks while Hull Kingston Rovers loan star Adam Rusling slotted in at half back instead of Turton.
After missing last week’s game through commitments with the Royal Navy, Jack Ray returned at prop alongside Josh Hartshorne with the latter shaking off a recent calf strain.
A further change in the pack for Cornwall saw Aaron Thomson miss out due to concussion protocols with his place taken by Nathan Cullen.
The hooking duties fell on Cole Connolly, who celebrated his 22nd birthday 24-hours before Cornwall’s maiden capital outing. The recent capture from amateur side Rochdale Mayfield made his first professional start after coming off the bench last time out.
Along with Conroy’s absence, Cornwall were also without three frontline hookers. Jake Lloyd (elbow) and Sam Gilder (concussion) through injury and Luke Collins, who won’t play again this season owing to suspension.
When the two sides met at the Memorial Ground back in June, it was the Skolars who triumphed 24-4. In an ill-tempered game, the visitors had three players sent to the sinbin for various offences but held on to triumph.
Jamaican World Cup hopeful Aaron Jones-Bishop and the first of two tries from Joe Purcell, along with three Rusling goals, had Cornwall 14-12 up with 15 minutes left.
However, led by their outstanding full-back Bassett, the Skolars duly prevailed, despite Purcell’s late injury time score.
That match sparked an upturn in fortunes for both clubs with London defeating both West Wales and Oldham since. While for Cornwall, just three weeks later, they broke their professional duck against the Raiders.
In hot and humid conditions, it was the home side who raced from the traps and after just two minutes, they appeared to have opened the scoring.
However, merry whistle blower James Jones ruled London’s try out for crossing with Phil Lyon the man to have his effort chalked off.
But during the opening stages, for the next 25 minutes it was all Cornwall. Both Ray and Hartshorne dominated the bulky London pack down the middle resulting in good field position for the visitors.
And after knocking on the Skolars’ door, it finally opened when Rusling danced his way over to dot down underneath the sticks. The talented teenager, who made his Super League bow for former club Castleford Tigers in 2021, duling added the extras.
Straight from the restart, the home side strayed in front of the kicker and Cornwall were straight back on the front foot.
Once again, the hosts were forced to defend their line with gusto whilst rarely threatening at the other end.
After 25 minutes, it looked like Cornwall would double their tally but Jones made an extremely debatable forward pass call. Myers fielded Lyon’s high kick and after beating three London defenders, drew Bassett and Rusling was away, coasting towards the posts.
However, Jones curiously ruled that Myers’ pass was forward, much to the amazement of both sets of players, benches and the supporters inside the New River Stadium.
From that point onwards, the dynamic of the game changed as London upped the ante and only brilliant goal line defence from Louis Collinson denied Matt Ross a try.
Finally, with six minutes to go before the break, Bassett and Lyon combined with the former crossing for the first of his four scores. Once again, Cornwall were on the wrong end of another refereeing call when Jones failed to spot a forward pass in the build up.
Just 90 seconds later and London had completed the turnaround to lead 12-6 at the break when a drive from Anthony Cox’s barnstorming carry set up good field position. The ball was then worked to the right and Greek second row Adam Vrahnos powered his way over. Lyon slotted over another routine conversion to give the hosts a one score advantage after 40 minutes.
If Cornwall felt that referee Jones didn’t help their cause in before the siren, after it, the visitors were the architects of their own downfall.
In the opening quarter of the second stanza, London scored three further converted tries with both Lyon and Vranhos adding to their respective tallies.
Interchange prop Henry Davatentivalu also breached the Cornwall line as Joe Mbu’s men were in complete control.
Cornwall were then forced to play a man light when Liam Whitton was sent to the sinbin for a professional foul. The former Leeds Rhinos academy star did wonderfully well to halt Leighton Ball’s progress after he intercepted a looping pass from Rusling. In slowing down the play-the-ball, Jones ruled that Whitton had committed a professional foul and he was off for a ten minute sabbatical.
Whilst down to 12 men, Cornwall shipped two further tries as Bassett completed his hat-trick and Abevia McDonald also got his name on the scoresheet.
Back to a full complement, Cornwall conceded another try when Bassett rubbed salt into visiting wounds with his fourth of the afternoon.
London: Bassett, Ball, Yates, Small, McDonald, Deery, Lyon, Cox, Thorman, Gale, Vrahnos, Juma, Ross. Interchange: (all used) O’Callagahan, Kaufman, Bell, Daventivalu.
Tries: Bassett (4), Vrahanos (2), Daventivalu, McDonald. Goals: Lyon 7/8
Cornwall: Whitton, Trerise, Jones-Bishop, Ashton, Myers, Purcell, Rusling, Hartshorne, Connolly, Ray, Cullen, Bodman, Collinson. Interchange: (all used) Prisk, Tate, Howe, Beer.
Tries: Rusling Goals: Rusling 1/1
Sinbin: Whitton (professional foul)
Referee: James Jones; Touch judges: Gareth Winnard and Henry Winnard; Reserve referee: Matthew Cowan.