London Broncos won a very tight encounter at Trailfinders on Sunday 15th of July which saw them leapfrog their opponents and up into fourth place in the BetFred Championship table and stretch their unbeaten run to five.
With the Broncos season almost on the line the Halifax game was a must-win for both sides in the race for the Super 8 qualifiers.
Danny Ward drafted in new signing, Eloi Pelissier, for his first start after having signed earlier in the week while Richard Marshall put out a strong Halifax 19 that had put Featherstone to the sword a week earlier.
London came out of the traps the quicker of the two and forced an early knock from the visitors. The next play forced a goal-line drop-out and a great run from Daniel Hindmarsh took us to their 10m line. The try was not to come however and Halifax picked up the ball and came back at us.
The deadlock was finally broken after 10 minutes when a penalty to London was given following a high tackle on James Cunningham. The resulting play saw the ball go through the hands of the Broncos line and Alex Walker got the ball to Rhys Williams who was over in the corner. Kieran Dixon missed the kick wide of the posts and London led by four.
On 20 minutes another London attack saw the high ball go up from Pewhairangi and Dixon chased the ball got up above the defence and batted the ball back into the field of play only for it to be called forward and another chance went begging.
Four minutes later a moment of pure quality from Rhys Williams when, following a Scott Murrell kick, he picked up the ball on our 10m line danced his way through five Halifax players and through their line and away the pass went inside to Alex Walker and the fullback sprinted away under the posts to score. Dixon converted the try and with 25 minutes gone the Broncos led by 10 points to nil.
The Broncos withstood some late Halifax pressure but on the hooter, the Broncos had kept the visitors to nil.
The second half was always going to be a difficult one with so much at stake and both teams started as they had left off before the break.
The temperature was now up in the eighties but the pace did not relent and on 48 minutes Jay Pitts put in one of his trademark storming runs only to be tackled just short of the line. How Pitts managed to offload the ball is a mystery but an amazing play from the captain saw Williams on hand and over for his second of the game. Dixon missed from a very tough angle and London led by 14 points.
Halifax were not going to lie down and on 52 minutes Will Sharp broke the line and was away and had he passed the ball would have sent the visitors over for a straightforward try. He didn’t and was tackled but the following play saw the ball go along the line and the move was finished by Kieran Moss who dived over to get the visitors on the board. Tyrer’s kick was good and it was now 14 points to six.
The outside backs of London were having a fantastic game and several runs from Kear, Williams and Dixon should all have produced more but it was Halifax who struck again on 69 minutes when Shane Grady spotted a gap in the Broncos line and was over for the try. Tyrer again nailed the kick and it was 14 – 12 with a now nervy 10 minutes to play.
The Broncos cause was helped straight from the kick-off when a spiralling kick from Dixon was dropped and London had the scrum on the Halifax 10 metre line. The Broncos were hammering on the Halifax defence and a penalty to the hosts gave them another set of six. They only needed four of them as the ball went along the line and there was Ben Evans to power over to open the gap back up between the two teams. Dixon kicked the extra two and the gap was now at 8 points with five minutes left.
Halifax were not done and the Broncos fans were starting to get nervous when on 79 minutes Halifax spilt the ball only for London to drop it out of the scrum. The resulting play saw former Bronco, Jacob Fairbank, went over under the posts. Tyrer kicked the extras and with now only 44 seconds to play the score was 20 – 18 to London.
The kick-off was taken and just as Halifax were making ground when a last-second offload went astray and was picked up by Daniel Harrison to kill the game right on the hooter for Full Time.
Both teams were exhausted at the final hooter and the heat had certainly taken its toll even though we had seen yet another fantastic advert for Championship Rugby League.
So London Broncos move above Halifax into fourth with only two games left of the regular season. There are so many different ways the season can end at the top but the Broncos know two wins from two games keeps them in the top four and the chance of a Super League return will be still alive.
LONDON BRONCOS:- Walker, Dixon, Hellewell, Kear, Williams, Pewhairangi, Cunningham, Battye, Pelissier, Evans, Pitts, Hindmarsh, Davis
INTERCHANGE:- (All used) Spencer, Ioane, Harrison, Sammut
TRIES:- Williams (13, 47), Walker ( 25), Evans (72)
GOALS:- Dixon 2/4
HALIFAX RLFC:- Moss, Saltonstall, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall, Sharp, Murrell, Johnston, Tangata, Kaye, Fairbank, Butler, Grady, Grix
INTERCHANGE:- (All used) Maher, Moore, Morris, Barber
TRIES:- Moss (50), Grady (67), Fairbank (78)
GOALS:- Tyrer 3/3