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KINGSTONE PRESS LEAGUE ONE ROUND ONE – LONDON SKOLARS VS HEMEL STAGS PREVIEW

Date: Friday 3rd April

Time: 3.00pm

Venue: White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre, Wood Green, Haringey, North London

New London Skolars coach Jermanie Coleman will get the first look at his side as his old club Hemel Stags visit the newly refurbished New River Stadium.

Last Time Out

Joe Mbu became the first coach to lose his job in 2015 as the Skolars were humiliated 86-4 by Swinton in the Challenge Cup just a week after a 78-10 defeat to York in the iPro Sport Cup.

The defeat, a record home defeat for the Skolars, saw Will Lovell score a try on debut but proved to be nothing more than a consolation against a rampant Lions side.

Hemel were stunned in the Challenge Cup as they fell to a home defeat at the hands of League One rivals Oxford RL.

Despite having Hunslet duo Reed and Gale in their ranks for the game and taking the lead through an Eddie M’Baraga try and controlling the first half, the Stags were helpless to a second half onslaught from Tim Rumford’s men following the interval.

Team News

In the build up to this game, Coleman has brought Matthew Cook in to the side on a month’s loan from the Hunslet Hawks.

The game against the Stags could also see Michael Sykes return having pulled out of the Swinton game during the warm-up with Louis Robinson, stretched off in the same game, also looking to keep his place in the side.

Hemel Stags have also been beneficiaries of Hunslet’s larger squad with four Hawks players, Mo Agoro, Nathan Darby, Lewis Reed and Jordan Gale expected to appear on dual registration terms for Troy Perkins side.

Key Battle

The experience and quality in the Stags halves will settle this local derby as James Helliwell and former Bronco James Woodburn-Hall should have too much for opposite numbers Tommy Connick and Vince Spurr.

What The Coaches Say

London Skolars Coach Jermaine Coleman: “I think it’s probably an ideal fixture for me in terms of only having had two weeks with the team and six or seven training sessions.

“In that respect I probably couldn’t have asked for a better team to play against because I know what to expect. Two weeks ago I was doing the opposite.

“Obviously I’ve got a lot of playing experience myself at Skolars. It’s just a case of settling in and trying to get my point of view across and the way I want to play and seeing how they respond to that and the challenges over the next month; we’ll build from there.

“The squad’s got a lot of young players in it with a little bit of inexperience. On the back of the two results they’ve had they’re pretty low on confidence so my remit in this first month is just to get a handle on the players and really get to know them.

“It is a local derby so you would expect the players to be up for it. That lack of confidence will hopefully go out of the window as proven in the last couple of seasons where the form goes of the window.”

Hemel Stags Coach Troy Perkins: “It’s a game we’re all looking forward to. It’s our derby game and over the past few years there’s been some pretty decent games between the two teams with only a couple of points deciding the game so I think it will be similar this year.

“Losing both cup matches has left us without a game for a few weeks. Skolars are in the same boat with two heavy losses so they’ll be looking to put things right, especially with our assistant going there a couple of weeks ago to take up the coach role. So there are a few interesting match ups on the playing and coaching side of it.

“We’ve had a few weeks to work on a few things and hopefully we’ve turned a few things around and will be a lot better against Skolars. It’s been a long pre-season so all the players are looking forward to getting stuck in.”

Prediction

Two thrashings by York and Swinton in the respective cups cost Joe Mbu his job and brought in Coleman, however, I feel his former side Hemel will have far too much for them on this occasion – Hemel by 14

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