A game of two very different halves saw South London Storm blow away London Skolars II yesterday at Storm Park to book a place in the RLC Premier South final next weekend against St Albans Centurions. A brutal and at times bad tempered game saw the Skolars lack of discipline ultimately cost them the game.
Skolars took an early lead after five minutes when the left wing found himself in space following a poor clearing kick from the Storm. The Storm fullback did well to slowdown the break but was unable to complete the tackle allowing the winger to get up and complete his run into the corner.
It took just three minutes for the Storm to level the scores with Ollie Bloom powering his way over in the opposite corner following a well worked move that saw the ball moved quickly through a series of hands open up a hole in the Skolars defence. Five minutes later Skolars almost regained the lead when a touchdown under the Storm posts from the loose forward was ruled out for a double movement.
It was at this stage of the game that the Skolars discipline started to put them under pressure with a succession of penalties for high shots, flops and niggling play. A quick tap penalty from Storm skipper Al Emerson on eighteen minutes put them back in front, the conversion from Darren Bartley making the score 10 – 4. Minutes later the referees patience with the Skolars underhand tactics finally broke with Todd Egan binned for deliberately interfering at the play the ball. Bartley took almost immediate advantage of the man short in defence to make it 14 – 4.
In the closing ten minutes of the half it looked like the Skolars were finally starting to get their act together, forcing several repeat sets of possession from which they clawed their way back into the game, with two tries and a conversion levelling the scores at 14 a piece. An injury to a Storm player saw the game stopped for several minutes, and when play resumed it was the Skolars who again applied the pressure forcing a knock on just five metres out from the Storm line which gave them the platform to seize a 14 - 18 lead.
The defining moment of the game came as the first half entered a period of injury time; an instinctive trip from Skolars player David Afreh after he was stepped by a Storm player resulted in an instant dismissal. Storm loose forward Mickey Walker crashed over from the penalty and Bartley’s conversion saw the home side head into the break with a 20 – 14 advantage.
The result of Afreh’s dismissal became obvious in the second half as the twelve men of Skolars ran out of steam in the baking afternoon heat. Walker’s forty-fifth minute try effectively sealed the game, as the Skolars lost their composure and stepped up their roughhouse tactics, which only put them under further pressure from the resulting penalties. Four further tries from the Storm followed as the Skolars defence increasingly struggled to fill the holes and the home side exploited the extra space with testing kicks. The Skolars did manage a late consolation try on the stroke of fulltime to leave the final scores at 48 – 24, but it did little to offset the comprehensiveness off the defeat.
Storm are likely to face a much tougher test against minor premiers St Albans when they meet at The Stoop in the curtain raiser to Harlequins RL game against Wigan Warriors. South London fans can take advantage of a special discount offer to see both games by calling Laura Harrison at Quins RL on 020 8410 6098 and quoting "Storm".
South London Storm: (20) 48
London Skolars II: (18) 24