London Broncos secured their place in this season’s Million Pound Game with a hard-fought win over a determined Halifax RLFC at Trailfinders Sports Club on Saturday evening.
With Salford Red Devils having beaten Toulouse Olympique in the Thursday night game Broncos knew a win would secure a place in the last match of an enthralling Super 8’s Qualifiers campaign.
The game started with both teams pushing hard but it was the visitors who opened the scoring on 11 minutes when London conceded a penalty on their own 5m line and Ben Kaye dived over from dummy half to touch the ball down. Referee Gareth Hewer sent it upstairs to the video where the try stood and when Stephen Tyrer converted Halifax led six points to nil.
As ever, for Halifax, Scott Murrell was running the show and on 13 Minutes a cross field kick from the stand off saw Tyrer out jump the Broncos defence to catch and touch down to widen the lead. Tyrer converted his own try and the visitors led by 12. The home fans had gone very quiet and were clearly fearing the worst with half the points difference to Toulouse having gone within 14 minutes.
The Broncos must have had a good look at the scoreboard, on 20 minutes, as they seemed to spring into life when a scrum was won on the Halifax five metre line. Pelissier passed the ball inside to Jarrod Sammut who stepped off of his left foot, fooling two Fax players, to score under the posts and in the process calm many heart rates in the Ealing crowd. The Australian born Maltese international converted his own try and the Broncos were back in the game.
Within 3 minutes the Broncos were level when after a penalty for a push on Battye the hooker, Eloi Pelissier, picked up from dummy half and dived over to score his first try in a London Broncos shirt. Sammut again converted and the home side had made it all square.
Halifax, however, refused to lie down and on 28 minutes Adam Tangata , following a video review, touched the ball just on the goal line to put the visitors back in front. Tyrer missed the conversion but the score stayed the same at Broncos 12 Halifax 16 as the hooter sounded for half time.
The second half started with both sides completing their sets as the arm wrestle continued.
Then on 59 minutes Sammut collected the ball just short of the line and produced a sublime offload, with three players on him, to get the ball out the back to Dixon who picked and went over in the corner. The play of the ball from Sammut even seemed to baffle the commentators on Sky but Dixon’s try levelled the scores and when Sammut stepped up and converted the Broncos led for the first time.
Within seven minutes the Broncos had moved further ahead when the ball was passed through hands across the field and there was the recently named Welsh Captain, Elliott Kear, diving over the line to score out wide. The sense of relief at the try was palpable throughout the watching crowd but Sammut missed the conversion and the difference was only a converted score.
Halifax were reduced to 12 men on 73 minutes when Brandon Moore saw yellow following what seemed to be words to the referee Gareth Hewer.
The Broncos held on until the last minute when hooker, Matty Davies, found Sammut in the pocket and as at Widnes he took the drop goal to extend the lead to 23 points to 16 right on the hooter.
The win sees the Broncos end their campaign on eight points in fifth place and a guaranteed place in the Million Pound Game and find themselves only 80 minutes away from the chance of promotion.
Sunday 30th of September, when Hull KR play Widnes Vikings, will give the Broncos an opponent and a venue for the last game of the season and all eyes will be on Craven Park at 3pm.
LONDON BRONCOS :- Walker, Dixon, Hellewell, Kear, Williams, Pitts, Sammut, Evans, Pelissier, Ioane, Hindmarsh, Gee, Battye
INTERCHANGE :- (All used) Spencer, Lovell, Adebiyi, Davies
TRIES :- Sammut (20), Pelissier (23), Dixon (59), Kear (67)
GOALS :- Sammut 3/4
DROP GOAL :- Sammut 1/1
HALIFAX RLFC:- Woodburn-Hall, Moss, Tyrer, Heaton, Sharp, Murrell, Johnston, Fleming, Kaye, Fairbank, Tangata, Butler, Moore
INTERCHANGE :- (All used) Davies, Davies, Cooper, Douglas
TRIES :- Kaye (11), Tyrer (13), Tangata (27)
GOALS :- Tyrer 2/3
SIN BIN :- Moore