London Broncos came from 0-10 down to stun the reigning champions Wigan Warriors 18-16 in a huge result at Ealing Trailfinders.
The Warriors took an early lead with Liam Paisley bundling over for the cherry and whites, while the home side struggled to gain a foothold in attack. Wigan extended their lead when former Bronco Jarrod Sammut sent Willie Isa through after 27 minutes.
Both sides will think they should have taken better advantage of their early chances in an error-strewn game. The Broncos remained within touching distance thanks to some exceptional goal-line defence, notably from Matty Gee and Luke Yates forcing crucial errors from the Wigan attack.
With 10 minutes left of the first half, London’s attack managed to match the effort in defence. First, Eddie Battye forced his way over to open the Broncos’ scoring before Jordan Abdull found Matty Gee with a place-perfect grubber under the sticks to send London into the lead.
And from there London kept hold of the lead for 45 nervy minutes. Just four minutes into the second half Kieran Dixon turned defence into attack by pouncing on a loose ball before sprinting 95 metres to touch down in the corner. He added a penalty five minutes later to make it a two-score game, which turned out to be all the breathing room the home side needed.
Wigan continued to press and enjoyed repeat sets in the London half, but found it difficult to break the Broncos down, with their sole score by another ex-Bronco Tony Clubb, setting up a nervy final quarter. But while Wigan peppered the Broncos fullback,Alex Walker, with the high ball under tough conditions, he looked strong in a Man of the Match performance.
In response, Jordan Abdull and Morgan Smith kept their composure in solid if-not-flashy performances in the halves, being able to run the clock down and see out a famous win for the Broncos.
Speaking after the game coach Danny Ward said, “Beating the champions at home is really special. It was a great performance from the boys and one they really enjoyed. I don’t want to get too carried away but it’s a pretty special win, we’ve had some big ones over the past 12 months, but it’s something to build on and something the boys can get confidence from because we’ve had a tough few weeks.”
“They’ve faced a little bit of adversity for the first time in that sense, so when we do get the win and play well, we enjoy it.”
“It was a tense last 15 minutes really, we went into our shell rather than carrying on playing and potentially trying to score more points, we were a little conservative for my liking, but the boys like to do it tough.”
The Broncos next visit the Totally Wicked Stadium to play St Helens on Friday 8th March, kick off 8pm.
London Broncos: 1 Alex Walker; 5 Kieran Dixon, 19 Ryan Morgan, 4 Elliot Kear, 2 Rhys Williams; 6 Jordan Abdull, 7 James Cunningham; 8 Eddie Battye, 14 Matty Fozard, 18 Nathan Mason, 12 Jay Pitts, 11 Will Lovell, 20 Luke Yates
Interchange: 16 Matty Gee, 15 Greg Richards, 28 Morgan Smith, 23 Rob Butler
Tries: Eddie Battye (33’), Matty Gee (35’), Kieron Dixon (45’) Goals: Kieran Dixon 2/3 Penalty Goal: Kieran Dixon (1/1)
Wigan Warriors: 20 Zak Hardaker; 2 Tom Davies, 4 Oliver Gildart, 3 Dan Sarginson, 1 Morgan Escare; 6 George Williams, 37 Jarrod Sammut; 14 Romain Navarrete, 9 Sam Powell, 22 Joe Bullock; 15 Willie Isa, 29 Liam Paisley; 8 Tony Clubb.
Interchange: 7 Tommy Leuluai, 24 Oliver Partington 13 Sean O’Loughlin 19 Taulima Tautai
Tries: Liam Paisley (10’), Willie Isa (29’), Tony Clubb (56’) Goals: Zak Hardaker (2/3)