It was an impressive and well coordinated display from the Broncos at Heywood Park this afternoon, in what was also Ben Hellewell’s 50th match for London.
Certainly, the first 35 minutes of the game the visitors were in complete control and in great form, only allowing the home side onto the scoreboard just before half time.
The Broncos’ first score came after 12 minutes, when a chip and chase from Kear was neatly pounced upon by Daniel Harrison, and swiftly converted by Naiqama.
London’s sets were well executed, and put the Lions under a great deal of pressure. A try for Slyney followed shortly after, as he drove his way across the line. Naiqama added the two with apparent ease.
Two more potential tries followed suit, but the Lions scrambled to react quickly, with two goal line drop outs in as many minutes.
New Bronco Api Pewhairangi looked certain to score, but a selfless and speedy offload to Offerdahl before a final tackle enabled the latter across the whitewash.
With four minutes remaining before half time Jack Bussey belted 30 metres down the field, and a lovely pass to Pewhairangi took him straight underneath the uprights, followed by the skipper’s fourth successful conversion.
London relinquished control somewhat in the final five minutes of the first half, and Shaun Robinson was able to cross for the home side’s first of the day. Atkin couldn’t convert, and London had a 20 point lead going into the sheds.
The second 40 wasn’t quite as polished for the Broncos – Macauley Hallett crossed soon in for Swinton’s second, and an unfortunate position of wrong place at the wrong time ended in a sin bin for Wes Naiqama.
However London proved 12 men was no disadvantage, with Slyney crossing for his second, and Ben Hellwell also touching down in his 50th game inside the 10 minutes.
Api Pewhairangi also managed a brace – set up brilliantly by Jamie Thackray, who impressed in his return from injury. In a great display of finesse, both Naiqama and Pewhairangi managed 100% success rates in their respective conversion attempts.
The Broncos eased up on the pressure inside the final minute, and it came back to haunt them. Rob Lever managed to break the line, and despite Elliot Kear’s best efforts to bring him down managed a final crossing with seconds to go. Atkin converted, for a final score of 16-42.
Speaking post-match, Henderson said that whilst it didn’t always go to plan, it was a pleasing performance from his side.
“The first 35 minutes of the first half went to plan, we were very clinical in what we executed, we built pressure, we completed high, we had good outcomes to sets. Defensively our energy was good, we had a lot of intent, and a lot of control in our tackles. I thought we deserved to be 24 nil up.
“We had to absorb a lot of pressure on our goal line – but we put ourselves there – but fortunately, and I’ve got to give the guys a rap, I thought we defended our goal line really well, with the amount of times we had to absorb set after set.
“We were put under further pressure with 12 men but we managed to come through that and score two tries, which put the game out of reach for Swinton and we closed the game out in the latter stages.
“Coming into the back of the season we’re fighting hard to stay in the top two – that’s where we’ve set for ourselves. All these teams are fighting for their lives – like Swinton – and they’re not just going to come out and roll over. They’ve all got something to fight for and to play for so you’ve got to make sure you’re on your game and you can’t disrespect the opposition.
“You’ve got to make sure you do prepare well and you come here and you do a job, and I thought today we were good enough to get the job done. It didn’t always go to the script but overall it was a pleasing performance.”
Swinton Lions: Gabriel Fell, Shaun Robinson, Stuart Littler, Macauley Hallett, Liam Marshall, Ben White, Chris Atkin, Mike Morrison, Matty Beharrell, Jordan Hand, Rhodri Lloyd, Connor Dwyer, Andy Thornley
Interchange: Andy Bracek, Rob Lever, Kyle Shelford, Vila Halafihi
Tries: Robinson (39), Hallett (47), Lever (79)
Goals: Atkin 2/3
London Broncos: Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams, Ben Hellewell, Alex Foster, Wes Naiqama, Api Pewhairangi, Scott Leatherbarrow, Nick Slyney, Andy Ackers, Mark Ioane, Daniel Harrison, Matt Garside, Jack Bussey
Interchange: James Cunningham, Jamie Thackray, Eddie Battye, Mark Offerdahl
Tries: Harrison (12), Slyney (20, 67), Offerdahl (30), Pewhairangi (36, 77), Hellewell (69)
Goals: Naiqama 5/5, Pewhairangi 2/2