Alex Walker provided a faultless, man of the match performance in a dramatic win for London Broncos over Super League champions Wigan Warriors. The disappointing loss for the Cherry and Whites now leaves them in 11th place.
London Broncos clinched a dramatic 18-16 win over reigning champions Wigan Warriors to record their first win against the Cherry and Whites in just under 9 years.
The historic win for the newly-promoted Londoners began much in the same way as their season opener – in which they beat Wakefield – as a strong Wigan pack made headway and Liam Paisley crossed just 9 minutes in.
London, however, stuck in the game and traded sets with Wigan for the middle part of the first half before Willie Isa shook off a tough Abdull goal-line tackle to cross on the Wigan right edge and allow Zak Hardaker to put Wigan 10-0 up.
Wigan stood in staunch control of the match and looked as though they would press on for more points before an unfortunate knock-on from Morgan Escare gifted London prime attacking position. London made the most of it, with talisman Eddie Battye crashing over from close range off the back of a sublime inside ball from Matty Fozzard.
Wigan continued to press, however, exhibiting somewhat of a casual attitude in attack while London defended their line in impressive fashion to prevent a quickfire reply of Wigan points.
Unphased by the loss of captain Jay Pitts earlier on, Broncos’ superior courage and determination reaped yet more rewards, with Matt Gee beating Zak Hardaker to a deft grubber from Jordan Abdull to score under the sticks. London went into the half time sheds 12-10 up in front of a raucous home stand.
Having gone into half-time down, Wigan turned the screw at the start of the second half and pressed London’s line, creating a guilt edged opportunity down the left edge with two men in acres of space.
Williams provided a lobbed ball to Escare but the Frenchman came up with a second error and knocked on into the path of Kieron Dixon, who used his game-breaking pace to race away for the pivotal try of the game and extend London’s lead to six points.
In reply, Wigan continued to grind out sets and pepper Alex Walker with high balls and pressure the Broncos into errors but Walker was infallible at the back. In fact, it was London who came up with the next points with Kieron Dixon converting a penalty goal off the back of needless ill-discipline from Sean O’Loughlin.
While O’Loughlin came up with a couple of key errors in the second half, he soon provided a sublime ball for ex-Bronco Tony Clubb to barge over from close range and cut the Broncos’ lead to four. Hardaker converted and the London faithful began to sweat with fifteen minutes left.
The Broncos, however, grew in confidence despite injuries causing significant positional shifts late on and controlled the last fifteen with an astute kicking game from Fozzard and Abdull that allowed for a tight Broncos defence to comprehensively limit Wigan in the closing stages and cap off a well-deserved victory.
Broncos leave Sky Sports’ Phil Clarke red-faced
After London Broncos suffered a disappointing loss against Castleford, Sky Sports’ Phil Clarke insinuated that such a result was the best it could get for the Londoners. Undoubtedly, such a disrespectful remark deserved an answer and the Broncos provided the perfect rebuttal to such an attitude with a win against his former team. Regardless, there’s one lesson that’s been learnt: you can’t write off the London Broncos.
New record set at Trailfinders
London Broncos’ relatively new home, Ealing Trailfinders Sports Club, hosted 2,586 for the game, which is London’s largest attendance at the ground, and it came in unfavourable weather conditions. There can only be more to come in the summer.
Weary Warriors must win next up
Wigan have only won one in four games and consequently, face a bottom of the table clash with Huddersfield on Friday. Fortunately, they came off the game against London relatively unscathed and will need to show a little more intent to record a second home win and get their season back on track. On the other hand, a loss could signal real issues for the 19-time Challenge Cup winners and new head-coach Adrian Lam.
Faultless Walker gets MOTM
Alex Walker was named man of the match and deservedly so. While the majority of the Broncos players were in with a shout with the likes of Luke Yates having a titanic performance in defence, Rob Butler impressing off the bench and Eddie Battye having a typically pivotal performance alongside an equally classy Jordan Abdull, Walker was the game-changer in handling the plethora of high bombs from Sammut and Williams with relative success in carrying metres off the back of them. London is certainly worth the visit just to watch the young full-back.
LONDON BRONCOS 18
Tries: Battye, Gee, Dixon
Goals: Dixon (3)
Drop Goals: n/a
WIGAN WARRIORS 16
Tries: Paisley, Isa, Clubb
Goals: Hardaker (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
LONDON BRONCOS: Walker; Dixon, Morgan, Kear, Williams; Abdull, Cunningham; Battye, Fozard, Mason, Pitts, Lovell, Yates Gee, Richards, Smith, Butler
Interchanges: Gee, Richards, Smith, Butler
WIGAN WARRIORS: Hardaker; Davies, Gildart, Sarginson, Escare; Williams, Sammut; Navarette, Powell, Bullock, Paisley, Isa, Clubb Leuluai, Partington, O’Loughlin, Tautai.
Interchanges: Leuluai, Partington, O’Loughlin, Tautai.