London Broncos lost for the first time at Summer Bash on Sunday going down by 40 points to 28 against an inspired Toulouse Olympique side.
With results from the first day of the Bash going London and Toulouse’s way, it was all to play for in cementing second place in the BetFred Championship.
London started well and even from the kick off Toulouse knocked on putting the capital side in the ascendency but following a second knock on a stray pass found former Bronco, Will Barthau, and he was away. Rhys Williams managed to track him down and prevent the try. The ball continued to go back and forth until on the last tackle of a London set when Sammut put the dab kick through, it bounced up kindly into the arms of fullback Mark Kheirallah who was away. Kheirallah went on to weave his way through the London ranks skipping away from tackle after tackle. He was finally brought down but there was support from Tony Maurel who went behind the posts to put the French side in front after 11 minutes. The kick was good and the gap was six.
Play continued to be scrappy despite the sunny conditions with penalties and knock-ons a plenty until on 22 minutes Kheirallah again got the better of the London defence with a breakaway but this time it was Worthington on hand to take the pass and go over for the second try of the day. Kheirallah again converted and the gap had widened to 12.
On 27 minutes Sadiq Adebiyi, having come off of the bench, made a great run down the middle and from the next play Sammut kicked through, chased his own kick and was over to give London a bit more hope and when the halfback converted his own try the southern side were back to within touching distance.
The French side, at this point, stepped up a gear and from the kick-off, Dixon was pushed into touch to put London once again on the back foot. Wave after wave of pressure from the French came London’s way and finally, after 35 minutes a great pass from Ford went to the outside missing out two Broncos defenders to Maurel who touched down for his second of the game. The kick was again straightforward and the gap was back to 12.
London, however, refused to lie down and within two minutes another Adebiyi break had led to a Sammut chip through and Captain Jay Pitts was on the end to score right on the halftime hooter. Sammut kicked the extras and we went into the break behind 18 -12.
The second half could have started better as a misunderstanding saw the ball bounce and go out of play for a goal-line dropout which was undoubtedly not in the plans coming from Danny Ward at halftime. London held out and after a knock on from Toulouse and a scrum from London Ben Evans found himself one on one with a French defender. The Welshman stripped the ball and had the power to get over the line and after the video ref had taken a look the try was given. Sammut’s boot was again true and the Broncos had levelled the scores with 34 minutes to play.
Sets from both sides were completed and competed for until on 53 minutes Dixon was again put into touch and from the scrum, Ford passed inside and Rhys Curran had an easy route over the line to put the French back in front. Kheirallah missed the conversion, hitting the post and the gap was still only one try.
58 minutes gone and the tide turned as Kieran Dixon was judged to have put in a high tackle and after consulting with his touch judges decided to send the London winger to the sin bin leaving London with 12 men for the next ten minutes.
It did not take long as no sooner had Dixon left the field than Bouzinac dived over the top of two defenders to touch down and again widen the gap. With the conversion going over the Broncos now trailed by 10 points 28 – 18 with still 10 minutes to go of being down to 12 men.
Rhys Williams and Jarrod Sammut, however, had other ideas on 64 minutes as a Sammut deft chip over the top evaded the fingertips of two Toulouse defenders and coming round the back was the Welsh winger to collect and score in the corner. Sammut again converted and it was back to a four-point game with just over 10 minutes to play.
The ball again went from side to side for what seemed an eternity for London fans but just as Daniel Harrison was held up over the line an errant pass was sprayed wide, collected by Curran who broke away from the Broncos defence passed inside to Kheirallah who added another four points to his tally and with the kick going over Toulouse again led by ten points 34 – 24 with only five minutes left to play.
Within a minute of the restart, Rhys Williams had again given London hope. His jinking run saw him beat three defenders to score his second try in ten minutes. Sammut stepped up to close the gap to four again but missed the conversion and with three minutes to go the teams were separated by a single converted try.
London again let the kick off bounce and go out for the dropout and after the hard work done to get back into the game, Jonathon Ford again showed some magic as he played Kheirallah in to finally seal London’s fate. The kick was good and on the final hooter, London had been defeated at Summer Bash for the first time.
The travelling fans had been brilliant all afternoon despite the result and the players went straight over to acknowledge the support.
Head Coach Danny Ward told us, ” We tried very hard today but unfortunately you don’t get points for trying. At the end of the day, we just were not good enough.”
On the race for a top-four finish, Ward said, ” It might take fewer points to make the four this year but nevertheless we are hugely disappointed in letting these two go today.”
The Broncos face the long trip to Toronto to face league leaders Toronto Wolfpack on June the 8th, as still the only team to beat the Canadian side this season.
LONDON BRONCOS:- Walker, Dixon, Fleming, Kear, Williams, Channing, Sammut, Spencer, Davis, Ioane, Harrison, Pitts, Battye.
INTERCHANGE:- (All Used) Gee, Cunningham, Evans, Adebiyi.
TRIES:- Sammut (25), Pitts (39), Evans (48), Williams ( 64, 77)
GOALS:- Sammut 4/5
SIN BIN:- Dixon
TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE:- Kheirallah, Worthington, Marguerite, Ader, Maurel, Ford, Barthau, Boyer, Kriouache, Canet, Mika, Curran, Bentley.
INTERCHANGE:- (All Used) Bouzinac, Bretherton, Hepi, Marion
TRIES:- Maurel (13, 35), Worthington ( 22), Curran (53), Bouzinac (60), Kheirallah (74,79)
GOALS:- Kheirallah 6/7