London Chargers made it two league wins in successive years after a dominating 42-0 win over Valley Cougars to take the Conference League South trophy.
Valley Cougars, who finished top of the table in the regular season, didn’t look like they’d recovered from their long coach ride and were second best to a London Chargers side who had had a much shorter journey to the stadium.
The Chargers, who won the lower ranked Harry Jepson Trophy to gain promotion last year, totally dominated and the damage was done in the first 40 minutes. They’d beaten the Cougars twice in the regular season but they were both close games. This Grand Final was a different story.
A large passionate crowd, many of whom had come from Wales to watch, cheered the teams on and the more local contingent didn’t have a long wait for the first score, Chargers taking the lead in the second minute – a good passing move found Ben Hird who scored in the corner. Phil Lyon missed the conversion attempt.
The lead was doubled six minutes later when Johnny Oldridge grounded in the opposite corner. This time Lyon converted well to make it 10-0.
They increased their advantage further on 17 minutes. Lyon offloaded well to Liam McGee who went over in the same place. Lyon again converted and the London side were 16-0 up.
Cougars looked for a try back but a hopeful pass, from the Welsh side’s first real attack, flew speedily past Yousif Sulliman and into touch.
It got worse for the Cougars on 24 minutes when one of their former players, Tala Petelo, ran well and set up Hird for his second. Lyon’s kick made it 22-0.
Again Cougars were caught on the right as they looked for a try back. Ethan Coombes tried to create a gap for Sulliman but this time the winger was pushed into touch and again a scoring opportunity was lost.
Then, Coombes looked to have made a clean break and although he was stopped 10 metres from goal, he was pulled back from receiving a forward pass.
Yet again, the shark-like Chargers stormed up the field to score and it was former London Skolars prop Ollie Bloom who was next over. Lyon converted again.
Just before the break, Chargers were down to 12 men after Brady Stewart “took one for the team” and illegally brought down Coombes who was in a prime scoring position. And after winning a second penalty, the Welsh ran out of the time, for the first 40 at least, London leading 28-0 at the break.
Cougars continued to get on the wrong end of some 50-50 decisions from the officials. An early Adam Watton grounding was chalked off for a forward pass.
Stewart came back onto the pitch and made his mark straight away, going over from dummy half for an unconverted effort to bring the score up to 32-0.
There could have been another increase as McGee looked to have grounded in space but the referee called play back for off-side. That was before Lyon also had a try disallowed for a knock-on.
The icing on the cake came with 10 minutes to go after Petelo, returning to his former club this year following a year in Wales, scored in the corner. Lyon missed the conversion but it mattered not in the grand scheme of things.
The final ended on a sad note as Tom Poole of Chargers and Ross Price of Cougars both saw red following a high tackle from the former and retaliation from the latter.
But the action hadn’t finished there. The last play of the game saw Lyon leap onto his own kick in the goal area, converting himself.
1 Ben Jones
2 Yousif Sulliman
3 Mike Hurley
4 Liam Watton
5 Adam Watton
6 Lee Goddard
7 Shane Lee
8 Scott Giles
9 Dean Higgs
10 Rhys Davies
11 Lewis Wilkes
12 Jack Watkins
13 Scott Britton
14 Dafydd Hellard
15 Ethan Coombes
16 Ross Price
17 Kristian Baller
Sent-off: Price (76 – retaliation)
1 Mitch Manson
2 Ben Hird
3 Johnny Oldridge
4 Tala Petelo
5 Liam McGee
6 Nathan Brown
7 Phil Lyon
8 Ollie Bloom
9 Blake Stewart
10 Danny Williams
11 Tom Poole
12 Joe Briggs
13 Todd Peut
14 Brady Stewart
15 Danny Burke
16 Luke Haslam
17 Craig Kruger
Tries: Hird (2, 24), Oldridge (8), McGee (17), Bloom (35), Stewart (52), Petelo (70), Lyon (80)
Goals: Lyon 5/8
Sin-bin: Stewart (39 – high tackle)
Sent off: Poole (76 – high tackle)
Referee: Matthew Rossleigh
Attendance: 100 (approx)