London Broncos ended their season against Barrow Raiders on a losing note, though they gave the play-off bound Cumbrians all they could handle, and then some, writes David Ballheimer.
A mistake on the opening possession gave Barrow a chance to attack and they forced a goal-line drop-out which Alex Walker caught on the fly and he made it to the 40 before he was tackled.
And it was Walker who scored the first try, in the eighth minute, when he caught a diagonal kick from Paul Ulberg who had followed up a good run from Siti Moceidreke, with a powerful burst down the right wing.
Oli Leyland added the extras.
However, from the restart Jarrad Stack dived in front of the dummy half and stole possession. Despite starting from only three metres out, Barrow couldn’t force the ball over the line and Iliess Macani was able to catch Ryan Johnston’s kick and bring it back into the field of play.
Barrow did draw level after 14 minutes when a short inside pass sent Anton Iaria over close to the posts and Ryan Shaw had an easy conversion. It was then the Raiders’ turn to make a mistake at the restart and London had a scrum 20 metres out and they forced a goalline dropout when Tee Ritson cleared the ball to the back of the stand.
There was a hint of good fortune in the score that gave Barrow the lead. A rushed pass looped highin the air towards the left wing and bounced away from Moceidreke and Anton Iaria was able go over much as he pleased.
Two minutes before half-time, Barrow stretched their lead to eight points when Shaw kicked a penalty after Dean Parata was penalised for a high tackle that collected the head of the Raiders ball-carrier, who had slipped going into contact. The restart went out on the full but Shaw failed to add two more points from halfway as the hooter sounded.
Early in the second half, Ulberg thought he was going to score, but the flicked pass from Walker was ruled forward, giving Barrow a scrum on their own 10-metre line. The duo, however, were not denied in the 46th minute as Walker grubbered into the corner and as Shane Toal waited for the ball to roll dead, Ulberg pounced inches from the line.
In the twelfth minute of the second half, London retook the lead when Callum Gahan spotted a gap in the Raiders’ defensive line and scooted over from dummy half, close enough to the posts to make Leyland’s kick almost automatic.
The lead didn’t last long. A brilliant strip from Iaria stopped a London raid that was looking very dangerous and the ball bounced to Hakim Miloudi. The Frenchman, leaving at the end of the season had a present of his own, a try to Tee Ritson, his 28th of the season and the flyer sprinted behind the posts.
The game may have gone against the Broncos when a head shot flattened Shane Toal; it was accidental, so no sanction against the Bronco. But two tackles later Toal was stopped by a brilliant Walker tackle only to get the ball inside to Shaw, who crossed and converted his score from near touch.
Ritson then scored his 100th professional try when he finished a last-tackle move that saw Sammut and Miloudi combine to give the winger an unimpeded run to the line though Broncos in the vicinity felt the last pass, at least was forward.
The Broncos showed they had some fight in them because they did reduce the arrears in the 75th minute when a Leyland grubber was touched down by Macani though Leyland couldn’t add the two points, leaving the deficit at 10 points.
London Broncos: 31 Alex Walker, 2, Paul Ulberg, 1 Siti Moceidreke, 28 Dalton Grant, 5 Iliess Macani, 7 Rian Horsman, 6 Oli Leyland, 10 Lewis Bieneik, 33 Sam Davis, 15 Jordan Williams, 18 Ronny Palumbo, 12, Rhys Curran, 9 Dean Parata.
Replacements: 13 Brad Foster, 14 Callum Gahan, 22 Rob Tuliatu, 30 Adam Vrahnos.
Tries: Walker (8), Ulberg (46), Gahan (51), Macani (75).
Goals: Leyland 2/4
Barrow Raiders: 1 Luke Cresswell, 2 Tee Ritson, 26 Ryan Shaw, 4 Hakim Miloudi, 5 Shane Toal, 6 Jarrod Sammut, 31 Ryan Johnston, 21 Ellis Gillam, 22 Josh Wood, 24 Anton Iaria, 11 Danny Langtree, 12 Jarrad Stack, 18 Bradd Crellin. Replacements: 9 Nathan Mossop, 14 Jake Carter, 17 Charlie Emslie, 32 Connor Saunders.
Tries: Iaria (14), Emslie (21), Ritson (58, 69), Shaw (66)
Goals: Shaw 5/7
Referee: James Vella
Penalty awarded count: 6–8