London Broncos opened their Super 8s Qualifiers campaign on Thursday August 9th with a last minute win over SuperLeague Widnes Vikings at the Halton Stadium.
With the hosts looking to end an unenviable 16 game losing streak and London looking to extend their seven game unbeaten run it promised to be a close encounter and the game did not disappoint.
The first half was a real arm wrestle with both sides completing their sets and keeping things tight until on 12 minutes a break from Williams ended up with Walker being held up over the line for the visitors first real chance of the half.
On 15 minutes Widnes thought they had scored and referee Liam Moore sent it to the video ref while giving no try on the field. The no try verdict was upheld and London were given a penalty for obstruction.
22 minutes gone and a break from Pewhairangi saw the halfback away but the Widnes defence caught the Kiwi and another chance had gone. Only four minutes later and the pressure came back the other way and a dab kick through from Widnes saw Williams kick the ball dead and it was a goal line dropout. Widnes continued to push and finally broke the deadlock on 31 minutes when fullback Olly Ashall-Bott found a gap in the Broncos line and was over for the try. Krisnan Inu kicked the extras and London trailed by six as the hooter went on the half.
The Broncos came out for the second half with Captain Jay Pitts shouting instructions as they came and they paid off as the visitors were on the scoreboard after only 3 minutes. Rhys Williams broke through the middle and passed inside to Sammut who was tackled but from the play of the ball Williams passed to Mark Ioane and the prop danced his way over the line. Sammut lined up the kick but hit the post and the visitors trailed still by six points to four.
48 minutes in and a penalty to Widnes against Daniel Hindmarsh was given right in front of the posts. The Vikings seemed unsure what to do but finally Inu kicked it and they led by eight points to four.
54 minutes gone and Widnes kicked long on a last tackle and the ball bobbled and bounced along he floor and just as he was about to pick up the ball Dixon knocked on. Widnes took the scrum and the ball was worked over to Chris Dean who went over to extend the home side’s lead and with Inu again kicking the extras the home side were starting to open a gap.
The Broncos had other ideas and following a 58th minute penalty the visitors chose to tap and go and there was Daniel Harrison to go over for the try and draw the hosts back within a single score following a successful kick from Sammut.
Dixon had clearly been smarting from the knock on that had given Widnes their previous try and on 61 minutes the winger finished off a good Broncos passing move to go over in the corner and give the capital side the chance to lead for the first time on the night. Sammut missed a difficult kick from out wide but the Broncos were starting to believe.
The belief was even more apparent within four minutes when Dixon intercepted a pass and the winger was gone as only Dixon can to score under the posts and with Sammut again kicking the Broncos into a 14 points to 20 lead.
With 11 minutes left on the clock the Broncos started to look a little nervy and on 73 minutes they lost the ball on halfway and within three tackles and three minutes the Vikings had gone over the line through Inu and when he converted his own try the game was back where we had started all square and all to play for with five minutes to go.
Two sets and many chewed nails later from the travelling London supporters and the Broncos took their chance. Alex Walker collected a skewed drop goal attempt from Widnes and broke to halfway. The clock continued to tick and London made the space for Sammut to drop into the pocket, take a pass from Pewhairangi and slot the ball between the posts to give the visitors the lead with 30 seconds left to play.
Widnes kicked the ball short for the kick off but when Walker collected it the clock ran down and the hooter went to signal a huge night at the Halton Stadium and a huge win to start the Qualifiers campaign.
Danny Ward said, ” I am so pleased for the group. They have worked very hard this season and this is the product of that hard work. We have not won anything yet though and we go back to training with 2 points and our eyes firmly on Leeds Rhinos next weekend.”
Widnes Vikings: Olly Ashall-Bott, Charly Runciman, Matt Whitley, Krisnan Inu, Patrick Ah Van, Joe Mellor, Liam Finn, Chris Houston, Aaron Heremaia, Gil Dudson, Chris Dean, Harrison Hansen, Weller Hauraki.
Interchanges: MacGraff Leuluai, Charlie Gubb, Tom Olbison, Danny Walker.
Tries: Ashall-Bot (32), Dean (55), Inu (75)
Goals: Inu 4/4
London Broncos: Alex Walker, Kieran Dixon, Ben Hellewell, Elliott Kear, Rhys Williams, Api Pewhairangi, James Cunningham, Eddie Battye, Eloi Pelissier, Ben Evans, Jay Pitts, Daniel Hindmarsh, Matthew Davis.
Interchanges: Thomas Spencer, Mark Ioane, Daniel Harrison, Jarrod Sammut.
Tries: Ioane (43), Harrison (59), Dixon (62, 67)
Goals: Sammut 2/4
Drop-goal: Sammut (80)