Warrington Wolves fought off a late comeback from the Broncos at Trailfinders on Saturday night, ensuring last year’s recipients of the League Leaders Shield did just enough to leave the capital with two points.
It was an incredible performance from the Championship side, who clawed their way back from a 14-34 20 point deficit to come within just two points of a monumental Super League scalp.
Man of the match, Jarrod Sammut, scored a hat trick of tries, and a whopping 22 of London’s 38 points.
London first were on the scoreboard, and for the majority of the first half, looked as though they were going to run away with it. Dixon was first to bag a four pointer after only two minutes of play, going over in the right corner. Sammut was uncharacteristically off target with the kick, but London had certainly found some momentum.
Only six minutes London, the visitors were penalised to holding down, leaving London with a huge chance only ten metres out, and one they certainly didn’t let slip – quick hands and a brilliant offload from Andy Ackers got Rhys Williams over the whitewash in the left corner this time. Sammut’s kick again went wide.
On 14 minutes, Hill met a wall of Broncos defence on the halfway line, and knocked on in the process. Again capitalising on the error, more good game management followed from the underdogs, trapping Ratchford in goal to force a goal line drop out, allowing for the Broncos’ third. Sammut got the ball away to Battye, who send it back, and Sammut went over for his first of the evening right under the uprights.
Wire pulled their first back on 28 minutes, with Lineham driving over from close range. Patton missed the two, but they wouldn’t stay on four for long. A controversial try was awarded for George King after there was mention of a foot in touch – the try was awarded on field, and the video ref followed suit. To add insult to injury for London, Patton nailed the extras.
Warrington came back out on the resumption as they intended to go on, scoring four times in just over fifteen minutes. Again, controversially, Hiku looked to have knocked the ball on in his stampede for the line, but James Child again awarded the visitors the four points. On the 52 minute mark, London tried valiantly to hold Wire out, but Brown went over. Patton converted both.
Two minutes later, Ratchford made a break down the middle, before getting a timely offload to Patton, who went over, and subsequently improved his own score.
With the game all Warrington, the visitors certainly didn’t lose their momentum – Westwood added a third unanswered try for the visitors, and with Patton’s two, Warrington had amassed a 20 point lead.
With 20 minutes to go, the evening looked to be done and dusted, but never ones to give up when the going gets tough, London rallied.
Sammut added his just over the 60 minute mark, with brilliant footwork which saw him weave his way over, before converting his own four pointer.
The visitors pulled another back four minutes later, when a flowing team attacking effort culminated in Russell chipping at the line, and Brown impressively grounding it.
Now with just eight minutes remaining, London’s never say die attitude couldn’t have been more apparent – a Barthau break put Sammut in for his hat trick, before Ackers got his name on the score sheet a mere two minutes later.
With three minutes to go, Sammut had Dixon in support on the left wing, and the lightning fast winger raced close to the length of the pitch, leaving Lineham and Patton in the dust, to dot down under the uprights. Sammut nail all three kicks, and the Broncos feverishly tried for another score with just over a minute to go, but a case of déjà vu, as it was perhaps too little, too late.
Speaking post-match, London boss, Andrew Henderson, couldn’t have been any more proud of his side.
“I thought we showed some real attacking prowess tonight. We moved the ball well, we caused them a lot of problems, and our kicking game was outstanding.
“We put Warrington under a lot of pressure. We fronted up, we scrambled, and we defended our try line well.
“It could have gone a different way – it could have been a blow-out score, a lot of other teams would have folded at that stage – 20 points down. The team had a decision to make – they could have surrendered, or they could dig in and have a crack, and they did.
“That’s what we’re about at London – there is a competing hard spirit here. We will compete to the end, we will fight and we won’t give in.
“I still say, and I still believe – we win these next three games, and we’ll be in the Million Pound Game. This team is good enough to make that happen, and we will certainly give it a crack.”
Walker; Williams, Kear, Pewhairangi, Dixon; Sammut, Barthau; Battye, Ackers, Ioane, Gee, Pitts, Davis.
Interchange: Spencer, Cunningham, Garside, Evans.
Tries: Dixon (2, 77), Williams (9), Sammut (15, 61, 72), Ackers (74)
Goals: Sammut 5/7
Ratchford; Russell, Hiku, Atkins, Lineham; Patton, Brown; Hill, Smith, Sims, Jullien, Hughes, Westwood.
Interchange: Gidley, King, Savelio, Philbin.
Tries: Lineham (28), King (39), Hiku (45), Brown (52, 65), Patton (54), Westwood (57),
Goals: Patton 6/7