London Broncos continued their successful start to the 2016 Kingstone Press Championship, coming from behind to see off Whitehaven with a 12-16 victory at the Rec this afternoon.
The win is only the club’s second away victory in Cumbria – having defeated Workington at home in late February this year.
A low scoring game, London were first to notch up points through William Barthau, who muscled his way over in the corner after only four minutes. A tough angle for Wes Naiqama’s conversion, the ball hit and bounced off the posts.
The hosts responded quickly, when Connor Holliday barged his way across the whitewash a mere five minutes later. Joufrett added the extra two, and Haven lead 6-4 still inside the first 10 minutes of the game.
A high penalty count and prolific scrummaging made for scrappy and slow play, and saw London almost cross again through Garside, but he was held up by strong Whitehaven defence.
Four minutes before the end of the first half came Haven’s last offering for the day, when Craig Calvert – who today made his 300th appearance for Whitehaven – found his way across in the corner, and Joufrett again added the two.
The team from the capital came out a renewed side in the second half, keeping Whitehaven at bay defensively and scoring 12 unanswered points.
Barthau bagged his second try of the afternoon after 60 minutes, shortening the gap in the score, and Naiqama was able to add the extras.
The fate of the victors was sealed only five minutes later when Nick Slyney absolutely barged his way across under the posts, allowing London to take the lead for the first time during the match. An easy kick for skipper Wes Naiqama right in front of the posts notched up the additional two, and secured a 12-16 Broncos win.
London remain in second place on the ladder, and are now within only a point of league leaders, Leigh.
Though not a pretty win, head coach, Andrew Henderson, was pleased with his side’s defensive capabilities and resilient attitude allowing them to back in the game in the second half:
“I’m very proud of our defensive effort against a good Whitehaven side today. Again we kept a team to nil in the second half, which now makes three weeks in a row.
“Whitehaven played very well – they threw a lot at us, but defensively we were excellent and had a never say die attitude. We had to though, because again we put ourselves under a lot of pressure.
“This week we’ll have to work harder to improve what we’re doing with the ball. Today, some of our execution and decisions with the ball weren’t good enough, but again it was a fantastic effort.
“It’s always tough to win away in Cumbria, so it’s a fantastic effort from the players, and they are to be congratulated on grinding out a hard victory.
“We’ve got a short turnaround as we face Sheffield away on Friday, but we’ll have the boys ready to go.”
Whitehaven: Louis Joufrett, Jordan Burns, Chris Taylor, Connor Holliday, Craig Calvert, Dion Aiye, Grant Gore, Glen Riley, John Paul Brocklebank, Richard Beaumont, Dave Allen, Jessie Joe Parker, Liam Carberry
Interchange: James Newton, Ryan Duffy, Scott McAvoy
Tries: Holliday (9), Calvert (36)
Goals: Joufrett 2/2
London Broncos: Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams, Ben Hellewell, Wes Naiqama, Iliess Macani, Jack Bussey, William Barthau, Nick Slyney, James Cunningham, Mark Ioane, Daniel Harrison, Alex Foster, Jon Magrin
Interchange: Andy Ackers, Matt Garside, Mark Offerdahl, Eddie Battye
Tries: Barthau (4, 61), Slyney (67)
Goals: Naiqama 2/3