London Broncos travelled across the Atlantic this week only to be shown why Toronto have gone undefeated since their loss at Trailfinders earlier in the season.
This was a very different looking Wolfpack side following the recruitment from Head Coach, Paul Rowley, and Director of rugby, Brian Noble, to the one that was defeated back in February.
From the very first set of the match, the Broncos were pushed back and one minute in the first penalty was given for a high tackle against the visitors. From the resulting set Toronto were held up over the line but following a knock on from the visitors the Wolfpack had the ball back and on three minutes McCrone passed outside to Paterson who found a large gap in the Broncos defence to score unchallenged. The kick from Brierley was good and the hosts were six points in front.
Within 10 minutes of the first try and after both sides had traded sets the Wolfpack struck again. McCrone passed out to O’Brien who sent a bullet of a pass outside to Liam Kay who breezed past the outside defender to go over in the corner. Brierley again converted and the gap had widened to 12 points with a long way in the game still to go.
The Broncos, to their credit, kept fighting and stayed in the game after 19 minutes when a lovely break from Matty Gee saw a cheeky ball inside and there was Jarrod Sammut to collect the ball and he was in under the posts. He converted his own kick and the visitors were back within six points.
With 25 minutes gone sets were again being traded leading to a good kick to touch from the Broncos and the Wolfpack starting on their own five-metre line. Three tackles into the set London were penalized for interference and the Wolfpack were up to our 20m line. On the very next play, Matty Gee put a high tackle on former Broncos player, Andy Ackers, and Brierley decided to take the two points from in front and the gap widened again with the score at 14 points to six.
Alex Walker took the catch from the kickoff and then Toronto conceded three penalties on the trot getting the visitors up to the Wolfpack line and good pressure forced a goal-line dropout. The restart produced a fourth penalty in a row against the home side forcing the referee into speaking to Toronto captain, Josh McCrone. The Broncos knocked on the door but the pack held firm and turned over the ball on the last tackle.
The 36th minute produced the home side’s fifth penalty in a row in the space of 10 minutes and the Canadians were put on a team warning by the referee just as the half-time hooter went with the Broncos trailing by 14 points to 6.
The Broncos came back onto the pitch early for the second half clearly smarting from the first half performance. However, the half started the same way as the first and within three minutes Brierley had passed inside and Paterson went over for his second of the game. Brierley again converted and it was 20 -6.
The Wolfpack were hungry for more and it showed on 46 minutes when at the end of the set the home side ran the ball on the last when London were clearly expecting the kick and this saw Josh McCrone bypass a sleeping defence and over the try line to further widen the gap between the sides. The kick was missed and with 30 minutes still to play the gap was now 18 points.
Wave after wave of Toronto pressure followed and the Broncos finally succumbed on 54 minutes when a dubious penalty was given for stripping the ball when the knock on looked the likelier call. Brierley kicked again and added another two points to the total and the score was now 26 – 6.
On 59 minutes the Broncos were finally given a penalty of their own, prompting chants of “Hallelujah” from the gathering of away fans. The ball went through three tackles when Alex Walker decided to dab a kick through and Elliot Kear was quickest to react and scored the try to the side of the posts. Sammut again added the extra points and the gap was back to 14 points.
Play continued in the same back and forth manner until the penultimate minute of the game when Ryan Brierley finally put the nail in the Broncos coffin by scoring under the posts and converting his own try to give the Wolfpack the two points and an extended unbeaten run.
The Broncos have now suffered back to back losses and will want to stop the rot sooner rather than later with a top-four finish seemingly drifting away from the capital side.
Head Coach Danny Ward will want convincing wins in the next two games, both at home to Rochdale and Swinton on the 17th and 24th of June respectively to get his side back on track in the race for the Qualifier positions.
TORONTO WOLFPACK :- O’Brien, Russell, Stanley, Worthington, Kay, McCrone, Brierley, Emmit, Ackers, Sims, Dixon, Paterson, Krasniqi. INTERCHANGE ( All Used) – Buchanan, Sidlow, Hopkins, Wallace
TRIES :- Paterson ( 3, 43), Kay ( 13),McCrone ( 47), Brierley ( 80)
GOALS :- Brierley 6/7
LONDON BRONCOS :- Walker, Kear, Fleming, Pewhairangi, Williams, Meadows, Sammut, Spencer, Cunningham, Ioane, Pitts, Harrison, Davis INTERCHANGE (All Used) :- Adebiyi, Gee, Battye, Davies
TRIES :- Sammut ( 17), Kear (61)
GOALS :- Sammut 2/2