Lessons learnt, now for the Skolars...
On Sunday, 29 th April, the Bears return to Butts Park for a League 1 fixture against old rivals London Skolars. The Bears have certainly been making the headlines recently with a good Cup run which came to an expected abrupt end last week in Widnes. The week before that they were up in Bradford, playing in front of a good 4,000 crowd against former Super League side Bradford Bulls. Again, not unexpectedly, they suffered a defeat, although nowhere near as bad as feared. Both these games were out of the ordinary, big games against glamorous clubs where the final result was never really in doubt.
So, in many ways, Sunday signals a return to normality, the season long campaign against clubs
where in some cases we may hope to get a favourable outcome. In that sense, Sunday’s potentially winnable game at home to Skolars is more important than the last two big games on the bounce.
The question is ‘can the lessons learnt from these games be applied against the Skolars?’
Coach Tom Tsang remarked after the Widnes game that the biggest difference wasn’t about
strength, fitness or particular skills [although the Vikings had plenty of each], but was about the speed of play. To get anywhere near their opponents, the Bears had to be so much faster than in their normal League 1 games. So if this can continue on Sunday, the trip to Widnes will really pay a dividend. The Skolars will also be looking for a win. For so many years they were the whipping boys of the league, but now have a solidity about them that was previously lacking. They sit a couple of places above the Bears in the table, but have played one more game.
In their last outing, they were beaten 66-6 by York, but that may be expected against a very strong York side. The previous week they thrashed a sorry West Wales Raiders team 76-8, but again that could be expected. So their form gives few clues as to how they will fare on Sunday.
Last year’s encounters saw the Skolars beat the Bears 42-16 in London, and a disappointing home game where the Bears lost 14-50, so a tough game is on the cards.