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South London Storm won a nailbiter at a near capacity New River Stadium on Saturday over West London Sharks to progress to the second round of the Powergen Challenge Cup.
Wests. Centre Don Vasce scored after just 2 minutes following a Souths mistake to give his side an early 4-0 lead. Sustained pressure led to prop Dan Olver barging his way over in the 11th minute and the conversion from Mark Barnes meant the Sharks led 10-0.
In the 16th minute, South London hit back from a move going through several sets of hands for winger Gavin Caloo to score an unconverted try in the corner. Caloo scored his second in the 22nd minute, evading 2 defenders after breaks but Tom Eisenhuth and Ollie Purslow. Prop Louis Neethling this time converted from the corner to lock the scores up at 10 all.
Neethling gave Souths the lead for the first time 12-10 4 minutes later, knocking over a penalty for holding down against the sharks.
Wests began to get possession and in the 31st minute were back in front through a try to winger Graham Robbins, leaving the half-time score 14-12 to Wests.
Just one minutety after the resumption, 2nd rower Keri Ryan broke 3 tackles to score out wide and put Souths back in front 16-14.
A physical stanza of play ensued before Wests turned pressure into points when number 7 Will Amor skipped free of a tackle 5 metres out to score. Barnes converted from next to the posts to give the Sharks a 55th minute 20-16 lead.
After a series of half breaks had given them field position, the Storm responded with a typical dummy half dart from substitute hooker Mark Nesbitt, and his 61st minute, unconverted try locked the scores at 20 all.
From that point Souths began to dominate possession and field position, resulting in simple penalty conversions by Louis Neethling In the 67th minute fora.high tackle and the
75th for holding down in the play the ball.
Prior to the restart, hooker/half Tom Eisenhuth was sent from the field for dissent by referee Greg Banks, leaving Souths to tough out the final four minues a man short. Wests had opportunities, one great break cut down by a flying tackle from two-try hero Caloo.
A near 1000 crowd, present for the 2005 launch of London rugby league were vocal throughout the final stages.
But the Storm held on, and after a valiant effort by two committed sides emerged triumphant 24-20 winners, booking an historic first ever Challenge Cup win.
South London 24 (Gavin Caloo 2, Keri Ryan, Mark Nesbitt ties, Louis Neethling 4 goals) defeated West London 20 (Don Vasce, Dan Oliver, Graham Robbins tries, Mark Barnes 2 goals). New River Stadium, North London.. Crowd (est) 900
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