The Super 8s Qualifiers finally upon us, London travelled to Perpignan looking to take home a Super League scalp in the shape of Catalans Dragons.
With temperatures reaching 35 degrees on the barometers, Andrew Henderson’s men showed a fighting spirit that will have the rest of the Qualifiers sleeping a little less soundly in their beds tonight.
The game started at a furious pace, with both teams completing their sets, until on seven minutes, Matt Davis broke through the Catalans line – offloading to William Barthau, who dabbed down to open the scoring, much to the surprise of the Catalan crowd. Jarrod Sammut kicked the conversion, and London were 6 – 0 up.
Junior Roqica gave away two penalties in quick succession right on the London goal line, and after the review, Catalans were level through a Richie Myler try, and conversion from Luke Walsh.
London refused to let Catalans break them, and their goal line defence throughout was magnificent, but on 20 minutes Catalans thought they had scored only for the try to wiped out after a foul on fullback, Alex Walker. Again, the teams went at it, and thanks to a great hit by Michael Channing, Vincent Duport knocked on for a London scrum. The next move saw the ball fed into the scrum to Andy Ackers who passed to William Barthau, who in turn passed to Alex Walker, who sent Rhys Williams over in the corner for the move of the match. Catalan did not get any where near the passage of play and London were again in front.
London stayed strong for the rest of the half, with an outstanding display of defence from Mark Ioane, Jay Pitts and especially Ben Hellewell. London seemed destined to go into the break ahead, until on 40 minutes, Brayden Wiliame, spoiled the half for the visitors, touching down in the corner and Luke Walsh again kicked the extras. 12 – 10 at half time but a fantastic effort from London. The second half would need more, much more, of the same.
The clash of the titans continued on the resumption where the first had left off, with the ball going from one end of the pitch to the other, filled with deft kicking from Barthau and Sammut for London and Walsh for Catalans.
59 minutes rolled around and finally a breakthrough, a penalty to the Broncos right in front of the posts. Captain, Will Barthau, showed no hesitation in telling Sammut to kick for goal – which he did successfully – and tied the game up at 12 – 12, with just over twenty minutes to play.
London finally succumbed to the pressure in the 64th minute but clearly had the Perpignan side worried as they too took the penalty, rather than run the ball, which was converted by Walsh again.
The Dragons fans were screaming at their side to push on, and on the 67th minute the Broncos’ line finally gave way to Louis Anderson. The French ran the ball on the last, and two missed tackles later, Anderson had put his side 18 – 12 in front. Add Walsh’s kick, and the Londoners now needed two scores to take the two points home.
London were out on their feet but were still playing some great rugby, and did not stop fighting until the final hooter when Mark Ioane ducked two tackles to score, and narrow the gap to four. Jarrod Sammut nailed the extras to make it 20 – 18, but the time was up.
The Broncos showed a true grit today here in Perpignan, that each and every player can be proud of, and now move to their next game against Featherstone Rovers, at Trailfinders, on 13th August knowing how close they came to taking the points back to Angleterre.
33. Lewis Tierney, 21. Vincent Duport, 3. Krisnan Inu, 4. Brayden Wiliame, 18. Vincent Duport, 6. Luke Walsh, 7. Richie Myler, 8. Sam Moa, 9. Paul Aiton, 10. Remi Casty, 11. Louis Anderson, 12. Justin Horo, 13. Greg Bird.
Subs: 14. Julian Bousquet, 15. Benjamin Garcia, 17. Jason Baitieri, 25. Thibaud Margalet
Tries: Myler (14), Wiliame (40), Anderson (67)
Goals: Walsh 4/4
24. Alex Walker, 2. Rhys Williams, 3. Ben Hellewell, 20. Michael Channing, 1. Elliot Kear. 6. Jarrod Sammut, 7. William Barthau, 18. Ben Evans, 14. Andy Ackers, 16. Junior Roqica, 36. Sam Wilde, 13. Jay Pitts, 22. Matt Davis
Subs: 10. Mark Ioane, 15. Eddie Battye, 19. Api Pewhairangi, 23. Matt Gee
Tries: Barthau (7), Williams (28), Ioane (80)
Goals: Sammut 3/4