It could very well have been a case of déjà vu, but London Broncos held firm to deny Featherstone Rovers as they remain undefeated in the Kingstone Press Championship at Trailfinders Sports Club.
Having lost to Rovers in the Challenge Cup just over a week ago, London were out to seek revenge on Easter Monday but found themselves two tries down early doors.
Jordan Baldwinson and John Davies both scored for the visitors in the opening twenty minutes, with both conversions being missed.
After sustained pressure, a team warning and five back to back penalties, Featherstone’s Bradley Knowles-Tagg was sent to the sin bin and London benefited.
With Fev down to twelve men, Rhys Williams took advantage of an overlap to continue his impressive scoring run in Broncos colours.
Rovers held firm though, and after Knowles-Tagg returned to the field, were able to recapture the ascendancy.
Danny Craven breached the Broncos’ defence just before the break to see the West Yorkshire side go in 12-4 to the good, after forty minutes of error-strewn and indisciplined rugby.
The second half continued in a similar fashion with both sides exchanging penalties. Ben Hellewell looked to be through to score but was tripped by Ian Hardman twenty metres out from the line.
Continuing to test the Featherstone defence, London’s William Barthau fed a well-weighted grubber kick through for Jack Bussey who touched down but referee Jack Smith went back for a penalty to the Broncos.
The momentum began to shift as Fev continued to give away penalties. Mark Ioane’s return to the field gave the Broncos the impetus needed; the Kiwi’s bullocking runs and defensive tenacity causing Fev all sorts of problems.
Clotheslined near the Rovers’ line, Ioane ran the ball in again, before some nice interplay with Barthau saw Ben Hellewell dash over on the left for the Broncos.
Trailing two points following Leatherbarrow’s conversion, London this time tried their luck down the right.
Alex Foster kicked on the fifth tackle, before Iliess Macani benefited from a fortunate bounce to tap the ball in-field to Foster who regathered and sprinted away to score against his former club.
Ben Hellewell added a second to his tally in a man of the match performance which put the game beyond the visitors.
As the rain began to fall, the pressure seemed to get to Featherstone as Ian Hardman knocked on and proceeded to punch Alex Foster. Both were sinbinned for the remaining two minutes as the Broncos extended their unbeaten home run in the league in a result that head coach Andrew Henderson was “delighted” with.
“It was a fantastic result, I don’t think we were clinical enough at times. The boys know that too, I have to give the players a rap to not concede in the second half. We had to defend well because we invited Featherstone into our half at times.
“Some of Featherstone’s defence was awesome at times, so fair play to them. They were awesome, and they made life really difficult for us.
“We gave some poor penalties away and that hurt us, when we came out after the second half we didn’t execute well enough but we showed great attitude and endeavour to grind out a win.
“If you’d told me at the start of the season we’d have six wins from eight, I would’ve taken that. We’re on course for our targets, we’re still unbeaten in the league at home and that means a lot to the players. We’ve spoken about that as a group but we know we can improve and I can’t fault our defensive effort today”.
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London Broncos: Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams, Ben Hellewell, Alex Foster, Iliess Macani, William Barthau, Scott Leatherbarrow, Nick Slyney, Cunningham, Eddie Battye, Daniel Harrison, Matt Garside, Matt Davis
Interchange: Andy Ackers, Jack Bussey, Mark Ioane, Mark Offerdahl
London Tries: Williams (24), Hellewell (67, 76) Foster (71)
London Goals: Leatherbarrow 2/4
London Sinbin: Foster (78)
Featherstone Rovers: Ian Hardman, Kyran Johnson, Bradley Knowles-Tagg, Misi Talipapa, Scott Turner, Danny Craven, Kyle Briggs, Colton Roche, Andy Ellis, Jordan Baldwinson, Jamie Cording, John Davies, Tim Spears
Interchange: Sam Day, Andy Bostock, Jack Ormondroyd, Darrell Griffin.
Rovers Tries: Baldwinson (10), Davies (16), Craven (38)
Rovers Goals: Briggs 0/2 Johnson 0/1
Rovers Sinbin: Knowles-Tagg (24) Hardman (78)