London Broncos continued their unbeaten run against Toulouse Olympique on Saturday July 7th as the two teams fought out a point a piece in an enthralling exhibition of Rugby League.
With temperatures, pitchside, reaching nearly 33 degrees the two teams gave everything leaving nothing on the pitch in a display befitting the seasons both sides have had.
Play started with the ball changing hands a few times indispersed with errors from both sides of the field. On six minutes a high ball from the hists was dropped by fullback Alex Walker and the count was wiped to zero. Straight away the Broncos gave away a penalty and after seven minutes Constantine Mika was over for the first try of the day. Kheirallah kicked the extras and in the heat, the visitors faced an uphill challenge.
Toulouse lost the influential Kriouache early in the piece and was replaced by Bouzinac who had caused so many problems at Summer Bash.
The forwards were working like trojans in the heat of the evening and were reducing the gain each time of their French counterparts. Evans was steaming through the middle and on the last tackle Walker kept the ball alive in their in-goal brilliantly and forced a dropout. From the kick, the ball was worked to James Cunningham and after evading two last-ditch tackles was over the line and the traveling Broncos fans aired their approval. Kieran Dixon kicked the extra two and we were back to all square again.
Toulouse did not take long to take back the advantage when on 18 minutes the Broncos defence went to sleep and two missed tackles allowed Bastien Ader to touch down unchallenged. Kheirallah again made the extras and the lead was out to 12 points to six.
The London players continued to battle for the rest of the half and Rhys Williams had a try disallowed for being in touch. The French line judge was adamant much to the disgust of Williams and teammates who were certain it was a try but the chess game ended in a stalemate and the halftime hooter went with the score stuck at 12-6.
The sun continued to shine as the teams returned for a second half that would turn out to be on a knife edge right up to the hooter and the last play of the ball.
It was London who came out the stronger at the start of the second half and on 46 minutes Rhys Williams collected a ball from a Toulouse kick and beat two defenders to break away. He passed inside to Walker who was in open field and clear of the chasing Kheirallah. How the French fullback managed to tap Walkers ankles is a mystery but tap them he did and the move was stopped in its tracks.
Eight minutes later, however, Matt Davies picked up from dummy half and was over for his debut try for London and with Dixon again kicking the extras we were all square again.
Toulouse came back again and on 58 mins broke the line only to be stopped by Walker but the fullback was judged to have prevented the play of the ball and picked up the first yellow card of his career. Kheirallah took the two points on offer and the French edged back in front.
Within five minutes the French had pulled further ahead when Chris Centrone skipped through two missed tackles and left the Broncos line behind to score and move the hosts further in front. Kheirallah kicked the two yet again and with less than 20 minutes to play lead by eight.
Back to back penalties for London saw them move upfield and when Eddie Battye crashed over on 69 minutes the comeback was on. Dixon kicked us to within two and the game went mad from there.
Walker, on 73 minutes, chased a high kick from Pewhairangi and was taken out as he raced through the Toulouse defence and referee Matt Rossleigh gave the penalty. Dixon kicked us level and with five minutes to play we were at 20 -20.
The last five minutes were to and fro as both sides missed chances to take the drop goal. Pewhairangi sliced wide and Dixon had an effort charged down as did Barthau and Kheirallah put one wide as on the hooter the spoils were shared with a point apiece.
The Broncos will now move on to another huge game at home to Halifax with their own top four aspirations still firmly in their hands.
LONDON BRONCOS :- Walker, Williams, Kear, Hellewell, Dixon, Pewhairangi, Cunningham, Spencer, Davis, Evans, Pitts, Battye, Hindmarsh.
INTERCHANGE:- Gee, Harrison, Ioane, Davies
TRIES:- Cunningham (14), Davies (54), Battye (69)
GOALS :- Dixon 4/4
TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE:- Kheirallah, Maurer, Ader, Marguerite, Centrone, Barthau, Ford, Cameron, Kriouache, Bretherton, Mika, Curran, Marion
INTERCHANGE:- Bouzinac, Puech, Hepi, Boyer
TRIES:- Mika (7), Ader (18), Centrone (63)
GOALS :- Kheirallah 4/4
Referee :- Matt Rossleigh