GATESHEAD Thunder’s bid to avoid a second consecutive win-less season seems doomed after a 64-16 home drubbing by fellow strugglers London Skolars.
The capital side racked up 12 tries in attack and conceded just three at the other end, with Gateshead once again floundering.
Playing their last game at South Shields’ Filtrona Park before returning to their regular home at Gateshead International Stadium, the sense of occasion offered no upturn in fortunes. Head coach Kevin Neighbour’s men have endured another dismal campaign, rooted to the bottom of Co-operative Championship One from the very first week.
The visit of London remained one of their last lingering hopes of reversing the wave of points, but once again their defences were breached early.
Only two minutes had elapsed by the time Joe Price crossed the try-line, and within another three minutes he had done the same again. Smokie Junior added a quick-fire double, and halfway through the opening period Gateshead were already 22-0 down.
Paul Stamp’s try and Gavin Beasley’s conversion finally got the hosts firing on 24 minutes, but the normal pattern was resumed when North East native Neil Thorman crossed for Skolars.
Junior completed his hat-trick just after the half-hour, and the try-count went to seven just before the break when Brad Hopkins charged over. Joe Price and Andy McLean kept the points coming, but Thunder were at least fighting their corner as Olly O’Mara found his way over the whitewash.
Matt Thomas, Brad Hopkins and Dylan Skee continued the punishment, although Gateshead did at least end on a positive note through Joe Brown’s last-minute try.
Meanwhile, former Thunder player Craig Olugbode made his international rugby union debut for Nigeria yesterday.
Olugbode, who plays union for the Westoe club in South Shields, was part of their Black Stallions squad for their African Confederation Championship match against Mauritius in Botswana. Nigeria were beaten 26-22 on the day, but face further games against Ivory Coast and host nation Botswana in the coming week.