Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Sunday's Coming - London Skolars

Tricky buggers, London Skolars. Probably the most improved side in the division, the Londoners have, of late, established a reputation as Hornets' bogey side.

Whilst they travel about as well as an unrefrigerated prawn sandwich, the Skolars are a very different proposition at home. I don't know what it is about the New River Stadium, but for the past few years it's become an absolute graveyard of unforced errors, slipshod defence and shocking discipine.

And though the ground has a hoodoo over Hornets, Gloucestershire All Golds came agonisingly close to breaking their duck their last week.
The New River Stadium earlier today:
Spot the grave-digger's van.

The 38-22 win moved Skolars into the play-offs spots for the first time this season. Coming on the back of the previous week's bonkers 55-52 points-bonanza at Gateshead it's clear that, while they're clearly capable of racking up the points, they also leak an awful lot.

Whilst shipping 77 points in two games and winning smacks of a team riding its luck, previous meetings at New River Stadium have always provided a stack of points. 2010 saw Skolars steal it 28 - 26, 2011 was 44 - 22 and last year was a 92 point thriller with Skolars running out 56 - 36 winners. 

So you don't have to be Wayne Bennett to see that strong defence gives you big platform for winning here.

Even Joe Mbu recognises that his side's Harlem Globetrotters mentality could cost his side against better drilled outfits. Speaking after the All Golds game he said: "We tried to overplay with long passes and some uncontrolled things".

There's no doubt that Joe Mbu's building a handy, open footballing side here and his latest acquisition, former Keighley pivot Jermaine Wray, will give them some much-needed pragmatic experience on both attack and defence.

Ultimately, winning this game shatters the hoodoo and sends Hornets to Wrexham next week with some real momentum. Whilst it's another long trip, if you can get there please do - this fixture is a proper banana skin and the lads need every inch of advantage they can get, so every voice counts.

We're going by train - here's hoping for a first class performance (see what we did there!)

See you on Sunday.

Official RFL Match Preview
London Skolars v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)

London Skolars are hoping it will be third time lucky when they entertain Rochdale Hornets on Sunday. Skolars have lost their two trips to Spotland this season, but hope to cause an upset at New River Stadium.

Coach Joe Mbu said: “We’ve played them twice so far, and they had a few changes in personnel between those games.

“I’m expecting the same Rochdale that we usually see – a good, strong, powerful team.

“I’m sure they will fancy coming here and getting a win off us.”

Mbu’s only injury absentee is Jack Dillon, who could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Rochdale moved up to second with Sunday’s 46-4 win at Gateshead Thunder and coach Ian Talbot is looking for them to continue their recent good form.

He said: “It was a great performance, especially defensively."

“When Skolars came up to our for the league game it was tit-for-tat for long periods.
"I’ve spoken about it before – the quality in London is improving year on year, and it won’t be easy on that tight pitch there.”

Talbot will check on Dayne Donoghue (knee) and Jordan Case (throat infection), while long-term absentees Alex McClurg and Alex Trumper remain sidelined.