2020 started with a bang on Sunday as the London Broncos travelled to Dewsbury to face the Bradford Bulls in round one of the BetFred Championship and ran out winners by 18 points to 14.
The Capital side gave debuts to Rhys Curran, Josh Walters, Dan Norman, Cory Aston and Tuoyo Egodo in a much changed side from the one that ended the 2019 campaign at Wakefield.
It was the home side that started the strongest, peppering the Broncos’ line but failing to turn it into points.
Instead, the Broncos were able to capitalise with their first decent spell of possession. Following a failed attempt at a 40/20, the visitors were able to work their way downfield on 14 minutes. The ball went wide before Guy Armitage cut back inside broke the tackle and touched down for the opening try of the season. Dixon converted from wide out and the visitors led six points to nil.
It did not take the Broncos long to double their lead when only five minutes later Rob Butler collected the ball on a crash run and was over for the second try of the game. Dixon again converted and the lead was now 12 points to nil.
The Broncos thought they had scored again on 33 minutes when Dan Norman flew at the try line but great defence from the hosts held him up over the line.
The hooter went and the Broncos had kept the hosts to no points in the first half but would still have work to do despite the 12 – 0 score line.
Bradford came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half and their pressure told on 44 minutes as the ball went wide to the extra man and Dawson-Jones scored on his Bradford debut. Lilley missed the kick and the score was now four points to 12.
The Bulls continued to pressure the visitors defence but on 54 minutes James Meadows made a break and there was Josh Walters to collect and win the race to the try line for his first in a Broncos shirt. Dixon converted from in front and we led by 18 points to 4.
There was not time to blink before the Bulls struck again as only three minutes later Thomas Doyle was over under the posts and when Lilley converted from in front the gap was down to eight points.
On 69 minutes the Broncos had the chance to put the game out of site as Guy Armitage collected the ball and was away. He cut back inside and was tackled and tried to offload to Aston who was free but the referee gave the penalty for playing the ball on the floor and the chance was gone.
Bradford made the visitors rue the missed chance on 74 minutes as Dawson-Jones again scored under the posts to close the gap further. Lilley inexplicably missed the kick from in front and in a tense final six minutes the Broncos managed to keep their cool to see out the win.
Danny Ward said, “It was an ugly win. We knew it was going to be a tough game here but we made it harder than it needed to be but saying that it was all credit to a very tough Bradford side. We made too many individual errors but at Dewsbury in February you will take two points all day long.”
London Broncos now move onto the visit of Whitehaven next Sunday at 3pm.
BRADFORD BULLS :- PICKERSGILL, JOHNSON, BROWN, OAKES, DAWSON-JONES, MILNES, LILLEY, ENGLAND, HALLAS, CROSSLEY, ROOKS, GALLAGHER, KIRK.
INTERCHANGE (ALL USED) :- NZOUNGOU, SCURR, HODGSON, DOYLE
TRIES :- DAWSON-JONES (44, 74), DOYLE (47)
GOALS:- LILLEY 1/3
LONDON BRONCOS :- DIXON, OGDEN, LOVELL, ARMITAGE, EGODO, MEADOWS, ASTON, RICHARDS, FOZARD, BUTLER, CURRAN, WALTERS, BATTYE.
INTERCHANGE :- ADEBIYI, KRASNIQI, NORMAN, DAVIS(NOT USED)
TRIES :- ARMITAGE (14), BUTLER (19), WALTERS (54)
GOALS :- DIXON 3/3