MATCH REPORT – Thunder 34 – 16 London Skolars

Newcastle Thunder made it six wins in a row at Kingston Park on Saturday afternoon but were made to work hard by a dogged London Skolars, en-route to an important 34-16 win.

Spending much of the game on the front foot, it could have been a greater margin of victory but for determined defence from the visitors and over-eagerness from the hosts in attack, however with just five games left of the season, the result is of far more importance than the manner by which it was achieved.

Thunder were the first to face significant pressure as a fumbled attempt to scoop up a long kick from the Skolars led to a knock on under their own posts, but a well-timed tackle and strip of the ball snuffed out the threat.

Having rode out that danger, Newcastle broke the deadlock through their on-loan starlet Mikey Lewis, after the Hull KR half-back set his side away with a superb break through the midfield.

Running with support the youngster was able to use that to keep Skolars’ covering defence from committing to a tackle allowing him to get over the line.

Lewis was at the heart of further positive play from Thunder and set the wheels in motion for the second try of the day, as quick hands from he and Conor Fitzsimmons set Kieran Gill off on a striding run down the wing.

Unable to get a pass back inside, Thunder instead worked a try on the opposite flank as a well-weighted pass was floated out to Matty Wright who strode over unopposed.

The Samoan international doubled his tally two minutes into the second half after a perfectly placed cross-field kick caused panic in the Skolars defensive line, allowing Rhys Clarke to offload and Wright to dive over.

Seemingly in full control, a horrific 15 minutes instead saw London level the match as they started to play as a cohesive unit and punished some simple lapses from the hosts.

It was as close to an upset as the result came however, as Thunder regained their composure over the final quarter of an hour to secure the win that keeps them firmly on the tails of Whitehaven and ready to pounce, should the West Cumbrians drop a result during the run in.

Newcastle kicked off their resurgence with a superb solo effort from half-back Nick Newman, whose fancy footwork allowed him to dance his way around his opposite numbers and reach out for a try to steady his side’s nerves.

Wright brought up his hat-trick four minutes later as he side-stepped his way around the last man, before on-loan Leeds Rhinos back-row Muizz Mustapha marked his club debut with a bulldozing effort from close range.

With a week’s break affording them a fortnight to recharge the batteries, Thunder next face a buoyant West Wales Raiders, who on Saturday secured their first ever win as a competitive on August 3, before the eagerly anticipated clash with Oldham a week later.    

Newcastle Thunder

Lewis Young, Alex Clegg, Kieran Gill, Matty Wright, Misi Taulapapa, Nick Newman, Mikey Lewis, Joel Edwards, Keal Carlile, Liam McAvoy, Rhys Clarke, Conor Fitzsimmons, Harry Aldous, Jared Blanke, Evan Simons, Sam Luckley, Muizz Mustapha

Tries – Lewis (19) Wright (33, 45, 71) Newman (66) Mustapha (79)

Goals – Wright 5/6

London Skolars

Illiess Macani, Elliot Jennings, Omari Caro, Lameck Juma, Jerome Yates, James Barran, Jy-mel Coleman, Judd Greenhalgh, Neil Thorman, Michael Greenhalgh, Robert Tuliatu, Jordan Williams, Mike Bishay, Liam Scott, Matthew Ross, Ronnie Palumbo, Eddie Mbarga

Tries – Caro (49) Yates (54) Williams (64)

Goals Thorman 2/3

HT 12-0

Attendance 1,098