London Broncos (8) 8, Bradford Bulls (19) 33
Match Report by David Ballheimer
London Broncos, missing their chief playmaker Jarrod Sammut were undone by the Bradford Bulls whose veteran half-back Danny Brough rather ran the show for most of the first hour, after which he left the game.
This was not the best of games, the strong wind making it difficult for both sets of players, whose handling was, in any case, not the best.
With the wind at their backs London made a good start and took the lead when Rhys Curran crashed over the line and after initially being held up, had the presence of mind to twist back and touch down. Chris Hankinson added the extras to make it 6–0.
Bradford then put London under serious pressure, getting a repeat set of six, then being awarded a penalty. The Broncos held out at the expense of a goal-line drop-out, but on the fourth tackle of the fourth straight set, Ross Oakes was sent over by Jordan Lilley, Brough converting.
Just about Brough’s only error came in the 21st minute when he launched a goal-line drop-out centimetres too far and the ball went out of play on the full. Hankinson took full toll of the offence, kicking the goal from in front of the posts.
Three minutes later, Brough atoned for that error with a 20–40 to give Bradford field position and Danny Boyle darted over from dummy half on the last tackle as the London defence switched off for a moment.
From the next possession the Bulls went downfield, passed the ball from right to left, then back inside, where the lively Brandon Pickersgill was chiming in and he scored behind the posts to give Brough two conversions in as many minutes.
In the last minute of the half, Bradford did the sensible thing when nothing else was open … give the ball to Brough and watch him drop a goal.
The second half was a real disappointment for the Broncos, whose defence was, on the whole pretty solid, given pressure put on it. However, they conceded a penalty after 53 minutes for a high tackle on Anthony Walker and Brough stretched lead to 13 points.
Both teams having been warned about high tackles, Roman Navarette was sin-binned on the hour mark, and the short-handed defence was breached by Ellis Robson, who took a pass from Lilley.
It was Lilley who took over kicking duties in Brough’s absence and he made no mistake from in front of the posts.
A late shot on Cory Aston brought a penalty but no card for Bradford but, a couple of minutes later, another late and high shot brought a reaction from London and both Danny Fleming and Greg Richards joined Navarette on the naughty step, leaving it 11 on 12.
In the final ten minutes London had two really good attacking chances, but poor passing decisions saw the opportunities go to waste.
The Broncos paid a high price for being slow to get back into defence because the Bulls went straight down the field in two tackles and Robson completed a double.
The moment of note was a fourth sin-binning of the afternoon, Pickersgill rather blotting his copybook with another high shot.
5 Ed Chamberlain, 17 Abbas Miski, 3 Chris Hankinson, 4 Will Lovell, 2 Tuoyo Egodo, 6 Cory Aston, 1 James Meadows, 15 Romain Navarrete, 9 Matthew Fozard, 10 Greg Richards, 12 Rhys Curran, 13 Josh Walters, 16 Daniel Hindmarsh
14 Sam Davis, 18 Jordan Williams, 25 Jacob Jones , 28 Titus Gwaze
Try: Curran 7
Goals: Hankinson 2/2
Sin-bins: Navarette (high tackle, 60), Richards (fighting, 66)
1 Brandon Pickersgill, 2 Joe Brown, 3 Rhys Evans, 4 Ross Oakes, 36 Mitieli Vulikijapani, 6 Danny Brough, 7 Jordan Lilley, 15 Danny Fleming, 9 Thomas Doyle, 10 Steve Crossley, 20 Brad England, 12 Aaron Murphy, 24 Ben Evans
18 Ebon Scurr, 23 Anthony Walker, 34 Joe Burton, 35 Ellis Robson
Tries: Oakes (21), Doyle (25), Pickersgill (27), Robson (62, 71)
Goals: Brough 4/4, Lilley 2/2
Drop goals: Brough 1/1
Sin-bins: Fleming (fighting, 66), Pickersgill (professional foul, 76)
Referee: J Vella