It was a very tough day at the office for the London Broncos, losing 42-18 to a hungrier Featherstone Rovers, in a disappointing afternoon at Big Fellas Stadium.
The Rovers started as they intended to go on, and scored the first of their seven tries when Jamie Foster capitalised on a penalty awarded to the home side, and managed to scoot across in the corner four minutes in.
Only eight minutes later, strong defensive pressure from the Rovers forced an error from London, resulting in a forward pass and a Featherstone a scrum 25 metres out from the Broncos’ line. Again able to use it to their advantage, Luke Briscoe neatly collected John Davies’ kick, grounding it just shy of the dead ball line. Foster converted, and the Rovers extended a 10-0 lead.
London managed only one attacking opportunity in the first 15 minutes, and found themselves unable to convert it into points of any kind.
Not content to go down without a fight, the Broncos rallied, and Daniel Harrison broke through Featherstone defence on the 20-minute mark, running 30 metres to go across under the posts, and Barthau added the two.
Then, with London offside at play the ball, the Rovers were awarded a penalty, and opted to kick for the two – Foster sending it straight through from right in front.
With an ever-growing penalty count, the referee had a word with the two captains before re-starting play. Shortly after, London were placed on a team warning for offside at play the ball a second time.
Half an hour in, a London knock on returned possession to the Rovers, and resulted in a scrum 30 metres out. Once again knowing when an opportunity had been presented to them, Jack Ormondroyd barged over under the posts, and Foster’s kick was good.
After one too many penalties conceded, London were reduced to 12 men when the referee produced a yellow card for Eddie Battye. Again, the Rovers capitalised, and Danny Craven danced his way through London’s defence to go across just a minuter later. Foster added the extras, and the teams went into the half time break with a 24-6 scoreboard.
Featherstone continued their pace in the second half, rattling London into making errors, and awarding the home side a second penalty kick 46 minutes in. Foster’s great form with his boot continued, and he extended their lead to 20 points.
Looking like they might be able to turn it around, Barthau chipped a risky ball into the in goal, found first by Macani, who managed to touch it down. Naiqama’s kick bounced off the post but made it through, and the gap closed to 26-12.
More tries followed from Joe Briscoe, Anthony Thackeray, and Danny Craven, and the outcome seemed a done deal. However, Elliot Kear managed to salvage just a little bit of pride for the visiting team, going across two minutes before full time. Naiqama added the two.
Acknowledging his side were far from the better of the two on the day, head coach, Andrew Henderson, said Featherstone deserved their win.
“We deserved what we got today. I thought Fev were hungry and determined, and they beat us in every department.
“What today highlights is that we need everyone – and that’s 1-17 – to be delivering their standards. I felt too many of us were off today, and not where we needed to be.
“Some will argue that the weekend off has possibly disrupted our momentum, and maybe it has in the short term – but it’s a long season, and we’ll see the benefits in the long term.
“The focus this week is about our bounce back ability. We’ve been here before this year, and responded in the right way. I have every confidence that the team will do that again this week.”
Featherstone Rovers: Danny Craven, Luke Briscoe, Ian Hardman, Misi Taulapapa, Jamie Foster, Jordan Abdull, Anthony Thackeray, Andy Bostock, Andy Ellis, Jordan Baldwinson, Jamie Cording, John Davies, Tim Spears.
Interchange: Colton Roche, Jack Ormondroyd, Kyle Briggs, Darrell Griffin
Tries: Foster (4), Briscoe (14, 53), Ormondroyd (34), Craven (39, 74), Thackeray (69)
Goals: Foster 7/9
London Broncos: Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams, Ben Hellewell, Alex Foster, Iliess Macani, Jack Bussey, William Barthau, Nick Slyney, James Cunningham, Mark Offerdahl, Daniel Harrison, Matt Garside, Jon Magrin
Interchange: Wes Naiqama, Eddie Battye, Andy Ackers, Mark Ioane
Tries: Harrison (20), Macani (49), Kear (74)
Goals: Barthau 1/1, Naiqama, 2/2