In a day that marked the return of both James Cunningham and Kieran Dixon from injury, London Broncos put up a strong second half fight, which ultimately was too little too late at KCOM Craven Park, being downed 35-30 by the Robins.
Ellis got the game underway, but it was London who were first on the scoreboard – back to back penalties ensured the visitors had ample field position, and Ackers went over from Walker’s play the ball. Sammut converted.
The home side were awarded a penalty for interference, and with a fresh set of six only metres out, Hull KR were determined, but London’s defence held strong for a good period of time, ensuring both Jewitt and Lawler were held up over the line less than a minute apart. The Robins’ first response came through Addy, who found a glaring gap in London’s line to go over from close range. Ellis was on target with the conversion.
The Broncos were in the ascendancy again a mere five minutes later, when Masoe was penalised for holding down, and London opted to kick for the two. Sammut nailed the kick, and London took their second, and final, lead of the game.
In the remaining 27 minutes, Moss, Mulhearn and Shaw all crossed for the red and whites, and Ellis’ conversion rate remained 100%. The first; Moss found a rather obvious gap in the London line to touch down, before Mulhearn went over to the left of the uprights on only his second touch of the ball.
With half an hour gone, Hellewell knocked on over the halfway line, and the resulting scrum enabled Heffernan to gain great field position, before getting a flick pass away to Shaw who went over the whitewash.
With seconds to go before the half time hooter, Carney carried Dixon into his own in goal to force a drop out, and Atkin landed a drop goal from 30 metres out, after fielding Sammut’s kick.
On the resumption, the Robins increased their lead after just six minutes, thanks to an Ellis penalty for a ball steal.
Just over the 50 minute mark, James Cunningham shrugged a Carney tackle, before chipping the ball at the line, regathering, and darting around both Moss and Carney to go over, and get London back in the game.
Sammut converted, but London’s comeback was shortlived – Lunt raced away from dummy half on halfway, and with Shaw in support, sent a well time offload to send the latter in for his brace.
Ten minutes later the home side won another penalty as London were offside, and Ellis success with the boot continued.
London mounted a massive comeback with only four minutes of play remaining – a strong team attacking effort saw Davis get the ball to Ackers, who in turn sent it to Ioane, who crashed over the whitewash to close the gap to 35-24.
Very shortly after, Ioane got the ball to Williams in the left corner, but Shaw did well to tackle him into touch, and deny London another score. With just a minute remaining, Kear went over in the corner to further narrow the gap to five points, but Sammut didn’t convert as the final hooter sounded.
London boss, Andrew Henderson, though pleased with his side’s comeback effort, said the game didn’t quite go to plan.
“I’m disappointed – I thought we were capable of coming here and getting the job done, but we didn’t execute the plan.
“Being brutally honest, we didn’t deserve to win the game. We put ourselves under too much pressure. We had a bright start to the game that first 15 mins. We were certainly in the game at 6-8 up, and we just compounded ourselves.
“We went into half time at 25-8, with a bit of a mountain to climb. We didn’t start the second half well enough. There’s no continuity or fluidity, and we left ourselves with too much to do. There was too much of a mountain to climb in that second half. The damage was done in the first half.”
“We’ve got to dust ourselves down now. We are far from out of this competition, and we’re certainly not going to give up.
“There’s a hell of a lot of twist and turns to come in this competition. We’re not dead and buried yet.”
32. Kieran Moss, 5. Ryan Shaw, 22. Andrew Heffernan, 11. Maurice Blair, 36. Justin Carney, 38. Chris Atkin, 7. Jamie Ellis, 37. Lee Jewitt, 19. George Lawler, 39. Mose Masoe, 10. Chris Clarkson, 13. Danny Addy, 33. Ben Kavanagh
Interchange: 9. Shaun Lunt, 12. James Greenwood, 20. Matty Marsh, 21. Robbie Mulhearn
Tries: Addy (8), Moss (16), Mulhearn (26), Shaw (30, 58)
Goals: Ellis 7/7
Drop Goals: Atkin 1/1
24. Alex Walker, 2. Rhys Williams, 3. Ben Hellewell, 1. Elliot Kear, 5. Kieran Dixon, 6. Jarrod Sammut, 7. William Barthau, 8. Tom Spencer, 14. Andy Ackers, 10. Mark Ioane, 36. Sam Wilde, 13. Jay Pitts, 18. Ben Evans
Interchange: 9. James Cunningham, 22. Matt Davis, 23. Matt Gee, 16. Junior Roqica
Tries: Ackers (4), Cunningham (54), Walker (64) Ioane (76), Kear (79).
Goals: Sammut 5/6