London Broncos’ dreams of promotion back to Super League via the Million Pound Game were dashed at Select Security Stadium on Saturday afternoon, taking a comprehensive beating from Widnes Vikings, and ultimately falling 38-16.
Much had been made pre-match of Denis Betts’ comments regarding the side from the capital, but Andrew Henderson’s men certainly didn’t put their best foot forward in this crucial Super 8s meeting. With both Gee and Cunningham sin binned for various offences, London played for 60 minutes a man down, and it showed.
They did, however, start the stronger of the two sides. Remaining scoreless for the first ten minutes, Ioane was first over the whitewash, muscling his way over after some clever play from Sammut. The Australian halfback successfully added the extras.
The Vikings responded with what they thought to be two tries, but both Houston’s and Ince’s efforts went unrewarded, with the video referee awarding neither.
On seventeen minutes, Barthau and White collided, and the Widnes hooker looked to stamp on the Frenchman as he extricated himself from the tackle, prompting a response from Barthau, which culminated in a few fisticuffs being thrown by either side. The penalty was given to the home side, and they grew in confidence from there.
In complete control of the game for the remainder of the half, the Vikings notched up a further three tries in quick succession. Whitley found a gap in London’s line and went over on 21 minutes, and White also crossed from dummy half five minutes later. Runciman finished a superb team try as the halftime hooter sounded.
On resumption, it was clear the home side weren’t in any hurry to let the two points go easily – Craven secured his brace after only two minutes of play, shortly after an incredible break from Ince that saw him sprint 70 metres, before finally being brought down by Alex Walker.
Sammut got the Broncos back in the arm wrestle shortly before 50 the minute mark, sidestepping his opposite number and sprinting over to touch down under the uprights, before improving his own score.
It wouldn’t last long, and Widnes responded soon after. Former Bronco, Mellor, added another four for the Vikings after London gave away successive penalties, resulting in a team warning for Henderson’s men.
Dixon bagged a consolation try for London with 25 minutes to go, collecting a loose ball and flying over the line, but as has become rather familiar in London’s qualifying matches, it was too little, too late.
Adding insult to injury for a hurting London side, Mellor ended the afternoon’s scoring with a brilliant solo effort as full time sounded, before Gilmore added the extras.
Speaking post-match, London boss, Andrew Henderson, couldn’t hide his disappointment that the goal of promotion was no longer a possibility.
“I’ve got to be brutally honest, it was a disappointing performance today from the team. We certainly didn’t play the London way.
“The first half, we were poor with our execution of skill. We didn’t front up enough, and we gave away a lot of penalties.
“It was a disappointing day at the office for the London Broncos. I know we’re capable of a lot better than what we showed today. We didn’t tick any of our usual boxes today, and we got what we deserved: well beaten.
“We looked a shadow of the team we’ve been in this competition and the back end of the Championship.”
32. Danny Craven, 27. Edward Chamberlain, 17. Stefan Marsh, 4. Charly Runciman, 28. Ryan Ince, 6. Joseph Mellor, 7. Thomas Gilmore, 15. Gil Dudson, 9. Lloyd White, 10. Jack Buchanan, 12. Matthew Whitley, 11. Chris Houston, 18. Greg Burke
Interchange: 13. Joseph Cahill, 16. Alex Gerrard, 25. Thomas Olbison, 35. Danny Walker
Tries: Whitley (22), White (26), Craven (32, 42), Runciman (40), Mellor (58, 79)
Goals: White (3), Gilmore (2)
24. Alex Walker, 2. Rhys Williams, 1. Elliot Kear, 19. Api Pewhairangi, 5. Kieran Dixon, 6. Jarrod Sammut, 7. William Barthau, 15. Eddie Battye, 14. Andy Ackers, 10. Mark Ioane, 23. Matt Gee, 13. Jay Pitts, 22. Matt Davis
Interchange: 9. James Cunningham, 12. Matt Garside, 8. Thomas Spencer, 31. Lewis Bienek
Tries: Ioane (10), Sammut (49), Dixon (66)
Goals: Sammut 2/3