London Broncos went down to their third defeat of the Qualifiers on Saturday in a game strewn with mistakes and penalties at Kcom Craven Park against Hull Kingston Rovers.
The hosts put out a strong side despite losing key players in the build up came out at the start of the first half the stronger of the two.
London were penalised early in the piece on three minutes when Sammut was adjudged to have put a late hit in on Atkin. With the partisan crowd screaming for the half-back to be given a yellow card the Referee decided that the penalty was enough and Hull KR continued the play and when the kick on the last tackle of the next play went dead in goal Ben Crooks decided to kick the ball away and much to the chagrin of the crowd received a yellow card for dissent.
London failed to take advantage of Hull KR being down to 12 men and it was the hosts who went over first on eight minutes when James Greenwood touched down in the corner. Atkin converted and the visitors trailed by six.
On 11 minutes the Broncos had a chance to hit back when Ben Hellewell, following his run last week against Toulouse, once again picked up the ball and weaved his way through the home defence only to be caught just over halfway. The ball was played back and then Cunningham passed out to Kear who in turn passed back inside to Walker but his kick was to deep for a chasing Rhys Williams and the ball was dead and the chance gone.
Within three minutes the Broncos were again on the Hull KR five metre line and some great thinking from Sammut saw the Maltese international dab a kick through the line and chase it down to touch the ball for the first Try for the visitors. He converted his own try from an impossible angle and we were all square.
Two Hull KR sets and four minutes later Eddie Battye was penalised for a high tackle right in front of the posts and Atkin happily took the two points on offer and opened up the lead to eight points to six and within a further three minutes Atkin was on the end of a kick through and over for the try to widen the gap to 12 -6. Danny Tickle took over the kicking duties but missed the conversion.
London were being penalised with alarming regularity and having to face some stern pressure form the home side and this again bore fruit when on 25 minutes former Bronco, Tommy Lee went over from dummy half to widen the gap even further to 16 – 6.Tickle this time converted and with 12 minutes left in the half the score stood at 18 – 6 to the hosts.
On 35 minutes it looked as if London would hit back as Sadiq Adebiyi broke the line following some great hands from the visitors. He reached the goal line with two Hull KR players attached to him and just as he offloaded to Sammut who was obviously about to score when a pair of KR hands came out of nowhere and snatched the ball to prevent the try. Great move from the visitors and another chance went begging.
On 38 minutes again the crowd screamed for a late hit on the kicker on the last tackle and again the referee was quick to give the penalty to Hull KR. Tickle kicked it and as the hooter went the Broncos were 20- 6 down and had another second half to produce to get back into the game. As Danny Ward said after the game the visitors discipline must have disintegrated since their previous few games with a penalty count of 9 – 2 in favour of the hosts.
The second half started in a cagey fashion as both sides completed sets and the penalties were evenly distributed until the 54th minute when following a penalty for a high tackle the ball was played by Eloi Pelissier to Matty Gee who crashed over to close the gap. Sammut, who did not miss all evening, converted and the Broncos were back in the game at 20-12.
The Broncos now seemed fired up and continued to pressurise the home side until on 63 minutes when they lost James Cunninghma to injury and the side needed to change things around to accommodate the setback and they worked as on 65 minutes a kick was dabbed through to the corner and Michael Channing got there first to score in the corner. Sammut converted again and with 13 minutes left to play the Broncos now only trailed by two points.
The Broncos defended for their lives and with penalties again going the way of the home side the visitors repelled three consecutive sets on their own line but finally on 70 minutes the persistence of Hull KR paid off as Greenwood went over in the corner. Atkin went back to the kicking duties and converted and with 8 minutes to play the score was now 26 – 18.
The Broncos kept pushing forward but the hosts held firm until on 77 minutes Broncos hearts were broken when an Atkin kick was collected by Junior Vaivai and over to put the game to bed. Atkin missed the conversion but at the hooter Hull KR had run out winners by 30 points to 18.
Danny Ward, in his press conference, said ” I am proud of these boys today. The effort they put in was tremendous and I cannot fault that.”
The Broncos now face their last two games knowing that they will need to win at least one if they want to make the Million Pound game as other results did not go their way.
They next face Salford Red Devils at Trailfinders.
LONDON BRONCOS:- Walker, Channing, Hellewell, Kear, Williams, Cunningham, Sammut, Ioane, Davis, Evans, Pitts, Hindmarsh, Battye.
INTERCHANGE:- (All Used) Gee, Lovell, Pelissier, Adebiyi.
TRIES :- Sammut (16), Gee ( 54), Channing (66)
GOALS :- Sammut 3/3
HULL KR :- Hall, Salter, Crooks, Vaivai, Oakes, Carney, Atkin, Scruton, Lee, Mulhern, Greenwood, Tomkins, Clarkson
INTERCHANGE:- (All Used) Lunt, Tickle, Kavanagh, Donaldson
TRIES :- Greenwood ( 8, 70), Atkin (19), Lee (27), Vaivai (77)
GOALS:- Tickle 2/3 , Atkin 3/4
Referee :- Gregory Dolan.