London Broncos ran in nine tries against Featherstone Rovers, but Salford’s 42–14 defeat of Batley means London will spend 2017 in the Championship, with either Salford or Hull KR.
This was a dominant Broncos performance, led by hat-trick man Rhys Williams and the boot of Jamie Soward. Featherstone, it must be said, were authors of their own misfortune with far too many handling errors, especially in good positions.
In the fourth minute, a diagonal kick from Soward was carried into touch by Craven inside his own 20. Three tackles later the ball was spun out to Williams, who touched down almost unchallenged.
Soward converted this try, but missed his other three attempts before half-time.
Featherstone’s response was to go close to a try, but John Davies knocked on with the try line at his mercy. The punishment came five minutes later when Daniel Harrison showed his strength to force his way through three tacklers before grounding the ball.
Midway through the quarter, the teams swapped disallowed tries, Scott Leatherbarrow – on for early injury victim Will Barthau – was denied by an obstruction decision while the pass to James Duckworth was ruled forward.
A break from Israel Eliab then set up Elliot Kear for a try, the Welshman doing well to gather the low pass before squirming past Craven to score London’s third try.
Kear turned provider in the 33rd minute, when he angled a grubber kick to the corner. Duckworth was slow to turn and chase, Williams wasn’t and he completed his double.
The London defence then showed up and Rovers could not find a way through, apart from when Josh Walters crossed the line and found himself held up by five Broncos.
Featherstone were out early for the second and did a brief warm-up before the resumption. It didn’t help as they had back-to-back-to-back sets and could not get a try.
Defensively, there was an improvement – briefly – from Featherstone as they held up a concerted spell of London pressure.
But they cracked in the 53rd minute as Matt Garside crashed between Walters and Darrell Griffin before crossing the line. And there should have been another London score two minutes later, but Leatherbarrow knocked on after a powerful break by Nick Slyney.
Rovers’ defending began to look tired as London ramped up the pressure and Williams was barely touched as he completed his hat-trick, weaving his way through traffic from 30 metres out.
Another Featherstone chance came and went in the 68th minute when Anthony Thackeray made an interception, but Kear ran him down.
After a Fev penalty, they moved the ball to the right, but Kyle Briggs threw a hopeful pass to the wing, where, Ben Hellewell intercepted and he raced 90 metres the other way.
The try of the game came in the 72nd minute and it was all about Soward. On the last tackle, he chipped the ball over the top, gathered the bouncing ball and then sent a beautiful diagonal kick to the opposite wing.
Jack Bussey gathered, had Kam Pearce-Paul outside him, but cut inside and scored himself.
With five minutes to go, Featherstone’s travelling fans finally had something to cheer about, Davies going over from a Briggs pass.
The last word belonged to one of the London heroes of the season, Mark Ioane, who took a short Soward pass and burst his way over the line.
Jamie Thackray, in his final game, was given the last conversion. He signalled a goal, the touch judges disagreed and it ended 46–6.
London coach Andrew Henderson said, “I am really pleased with the way we went. We won the game in the first half. We didn’t start the second half very well, but finished strong.
“We didn’t let the players know the score at Batley. We needed to do our job first and that is what we achieved.”
32 Elliott Kear, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Ben Hellewell, 6 Israel Eliab, 31 Kam Pearce-Paul, 7 Will Barthau, 33 Jamie Soward, 8 Nick Slyney, 14 Andy Ackers, 16 Mark Ioane, 11 Daniel Harrison, 12 Matt Garside, 15 Jack Bussey
Subs: 10 Eddie Battye, 17 Mark Offerdahl, 18 Jamie Thackray, 20 Scott Leatherbarrow
Tries: Williams (4, 33, 65), Harrison (17), Kear (24), Garside (53), Hellewell (65), Bussey (72), Ioane (77)
Goals: Soward 5/8, Thackray 0/1
1 Danny Craven, 33 James Duckworth, 15 Ian Hardman, 4 Misi Taulapapa, 29 Luke Briscoe, 6 Kyle Briggs, 7 Anthony Thackeray, 8 Darrell Griffin, 23 Andy Ellis, 32 Jordan Baldwindson, 39 Josh Walters, 12 John Davies, 21 Bradley Tagg
Subs: 13 Tim Spears, 11 Steve Snitch, 19 Sam Day, 20 Luke Cooper
Tries: Davies (75)
Goals: Craven 1/1
By David Ballheimer