Monday, July 02, 2012

Double trouble... (London Broncos v. Leeds Rhinos & London Skolars v. Barrow Raiders)

I was lucky enough to have two home games to watch this weekend: Broncos v. Leeds and Skolars v. Barrow. Both games seemed to illustrate the concept of the score not reflecting the match (Broncos were murdered 12-58, while Skolars managed a more creditable 17-30)). They also illustrate the fact that a terrible damage can be done to the score line in a very short time.

The first twenty five minutes of the Broncos match were scoreless: indeed, the London side were mostly camped out in the Leeds half, and the West Yorks team locked a shadow of the sides I've seen. Broncos' tackling was efficient and their rucking was tight. They just seemed to lack finishing, relying on dink kicks that were inevitably scooped up on the line. Leeds' first try was disallowed for a forward pass: but it did show how they could cut Broncos apart ion the wing. The visitors were ahead at half time, and despite London scoring first, began to build a steady lead.

Then came the last ten minutes. Leeds drove home try after try, and suddenly a close match became a drubbing. The worst thing was they were soft tries: not bulldozered over the line but gaps exploited mercilessly. The dreaded fifty mark loomed and was approached with terrible inevitability. Ten tries are hideous to be on the receiving end of. The Southern side just, almost literally, took their eye off the ball, and their spirit crumpled. The victor's coach, however (admittedly an ex-manager of the then Harlequins) said afterwards that the score didn't reflect the work and the quality of the contest for most of the match.

Much the same could be said for Skolars. They're mitigation is they were up against the top of the league side who only are slumming it in Championship One because of financial difficulties (tomorrow I'll have a rant about the Bulls, don't let me forget). They were 11-0 up at half time (including a cheeky drop goal). The match had been tight and scoring opportunities few. Then, second half, the league leaders remembered what they were there to do, they drove through three in succession (in the space of 9 minutes). From there on the struggle resumed, but Skolars had men sent off. The perennial strugglers clawed one back, before a final two tries finished them off. The bonus point slipped out of grasp. The thirteen point gap in no way represents the real gap between the teams: the difference was those nine minutes and the entirely preventable third try. At this rate, the occasional cries of Skolars' fans that their is the best team in London might just, terrifyingly, and for all the wrong reasons, be correct.

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