The Broncos U18’s kicked off their 2020 campaign with an outstanding 44 to 34 win over St Helens at a blustery Trailfinders Sports Club.
This was the first game in charge for Colin Baker having taken over from Huw Goodwin in the off season and he could not have had a better start.
The Broncos took the lead within the first five minutes as Elliot Hutchings dabbed a kick through to score the first of the season, although the conversion was kicked just wide.
St Helens pegged the score back almost immediately, as the Broncos gave away a penalty in their own half, as Martyn scored in the left hand corner, claiming his first try of the afternoon. The conversion was good and the Saints led four points to six.
The visitors scored a second shortly after as the Broncos knocked the ball on in their own half, Martyn putting the ball down in exactly the same place where he scored his first. The conversion was missed and the visitors now led four points to 10
The first half continued at the same high energy, high tempo pace, with both sides giving the ball away. The visitors nearly went over in the left corner again, but Jonathan Bennison dropped the ball five metres from the Broncos line, saving the home sides blushes as they got caught short on the left side.
With 12 minutes left in the half, the Broncos levelled the scores; Owen Michael claiming his first of the afternoon left of the posts, with the kick converted by Sean Baker.
The points were being scored tit for tat and only two minutes later, the visitors retook the lead as Shay Martyn completed his hattrick in the far left corner with the kicker scoring the extra two points.
Again the home side did not lie down and the Broncos equalised in the very next attack.
St Helens were unable to deal with the kick on the last tackle and winger Bill Leyland stole the ball from his counterpart 20 metres from the try line, passed the ball to Owen Michael who ran the ball home for his second. Sean Baker kicking into the wind at a slightly angle, put the Broncos level.
But the first half had one more twist in store, as the Broncos ran a 20 metre tap which saw Ted Davidson driven into touch by a resilient Saints defence on the first tackle, Reece Sumner broke through the Broncos defence to put St Helens 20-16 ahead at half time.
The second half started a lot like the first, with both sides giving everything from the kick off; but it was the visitors who extended their lead shortly after the restart.
A penalty for a high tackle had given Saints’ possession deep inside the Bronco’s half and after being held short by a tough Broncos defence, Sambou clambered over the line for his first of the afternoon for the visitors.
The Broncos weren’t out of it by a long shot and shortly after they conceded, they scored at the other end of the pitch as Elliot Hutchings scored his second try of the afternoon after the Broncos won the ball back on Saint’s 30 metre line.
The Broncos took the lead shortly after as the visitors had given a penalty away for offside and Owen Michael was there to complete his hat-trick and third try of the afternoon. The kick was converted by Baker, and the Broncos reclaimed the lead and led 28-24.
The visitors retook the lead a few minutes later after falling behind. Cole Appleby powered his way through the Broncos defence, placing the ball underneath the posts, the kick from Martyn was converted with ease.
Again the Broncos would not lie down, and after a succession of high tackles from the visitors, London retook the lead as Luke Callan pushed his way through on the right hand side. Baker missed against the wind and the home side led again 32 – 30
London needed a little bit of relief from the Saints defence and on the hour mark, they got some.
After another high tackle from the Saints, this time coming from Cole Appleby on Jacob Smith, the ref went to his pocket and pulled out a yellow card, handing Appleby 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
Although the Saints stood firm, London made their man difference count, and with 13 minutes left on the clock, the Broncos went further in front as Jacob Smith claimed his first try of the season and the trusted boot of Sean Baker claimed the extra two points.
The Saints had clawed another try back shortly after the Broncos gave away a penalty in their own half as Sambou claimed his second try in the corner, but the visitors missed the conversion.
In the last few minutes of the game, the Broncos clinched the victory, picking the ball up on their own 40 metre line after a misplaced Saints pass, working the ball up to the Saints 10 metre line. A grubber kick from Joe Rees was dived upon by Ramon Da Silva and he scored between the posts. The kick was converted again by man of the match Baker and shortly after the final whistle blew.
Head Coach Colin Baker spoke to us after the game, “I am delighted with the win but what excites me the most is knowing that there is a lot more still to come from this team. Some of the boys who had the chance to play with the reserves really stood out today and we may need to look at getting the other lads a pre season game moving forward.”
LBSA Man Of The Match :- Sean Baker