Saturday Northern Rail Cup Round-up

Toulouse have all but secured passage through to the quarter finals of the Northern Rail Cup after beating London Skolars. This latest six try victory now means that the French side has nine points and three wins from their four games.

Toulouse built an 18-10 half-time advantage with free-scoring Darren Nicholls claiming his fifth try of the season after ten minutes. A quick double from Skolars winger Ade Adebisi gave the visitors a surprise 10-6 lead but a first try for his new club by Craig Cook, converted by Josh Lewis and another touchdown six minutes later by young forward Johan Tisseyre set the position at the break. Further scores by Andrei Olari and Lewis stretched the home advantage out to 28-10 but Skolars responded to the challenge and scored two tries in six minutes through Matt Thomas and Dave Arnott, both goaled by Neil Thorman to close the deficit to 28-22.

Man of the moment Josh Lewis then added another try to his growing tally, and a fifth goal to secure the 34-22 success.

It leaves Olympique looking at the result at Dewsbury’s Tetley stadium tomorrow when the Rams meet Barrow Raiders.

Saturday’s other game brought a struggle in the mud at Big Fellas Stadium where Featherstone Rovers hosted Widnes Vikings. This was all about who would finish 4 and 0 at the end of the qualifying section and from the outset, it was the Vikings who got the tactics right, pinning Featherstone deep in their own territory.

Widnes opened scoring after forcing an early drop out. They built the position and Anthony Thackeray schemed down the right for Shane Grady to burst through. Steve Tyrer added the first of five goals and the Vikings were on the move.

The visitors dominance continued and when Thomas Coyle dummied into an opening and released for Tyrer. The point scoring ace claimed his fourth try of the season and goaled for a 12-0 advantage.

The first quarter belonged to Widnes and it was only in the next ten minutes when Rovers got some field position of their own. Tony Tonks was held up and the Vikings defence held firm. Against the run of play, Widnes claimed a third try when Thackeray intercepted on his own line with an all-or-nothing play and ran the length of the field for his fifth try of the season.

As magnificent as that try was, Thackeray attempted a drop-goal a couple of minutes later that never rose more than than a couple of inches from the ground.

As a result that meant an 18-0 half-time lead. The score soon became 20-0 when Tyrer struck a 20 metre penalty after five minutes of the second half. Rovers defence creaked as Widnes went on the hunt for further points but they somehow kept their lines intact, although Tyrer appeared to make the game safe with a second penalty after 65 minutes.

Trailing 22-0 seemed to spark Rovers into action and amid the murk and mud, they began a stirring fightback, winning seven back-to-back penalties. First skipper Stuart Dickens barrelled his way over after 68 minutes for go-to man Liam Finn to add the extras. As Featherstone flooded forward, former Widnes player Andy Kain unlocked the defence with a well placed grubber kick that saw dual contract player Zak Hardacre ground for his fourth try of the campaign. Again Finn was on target with the kick and by the time Sam Smeaton took a wonderful Finn bomb to sail over, Rovers had Widnes reeling. Surprisingly Finn missed the conversion and the Vikings just about kept their nerve in a tense finish to claim a 22-16 success.

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