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EXTENDED PREVIEW – London Broncos v Halifax

Date: Saturday 28th March

Time: 3:00pm

Venue: The Hive

London will need to win this game if they’re to go level on points with Halifax, who are currently in 4th position in the Kingstone Press Championship. A loss will see Andrew Henderson’s side playing a game of catchup as more of a gap will come between them in the top four spots. Halifax travel to The Hive after booking their place in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup with a 56-16 victory over Barrow Raiders at Craven Park. London Broncos didn’t have the most favourable of ties, being drawn against Leigh Centurions away, which was a game that they lost 64-12.

Last Time Out

The size of the challenge that faced London last Friday was momentous, and without the aid of any dual-registration players. The relegated Super League side travelled to Leigh and were hoping to cause an upset, something that never looked on the cards. A 64-12 loss could easily have been envisaged at half-time, when the hosts went into the sheds 36-0 to the good. Jonathan Pownall, Sam Barlow, Kurt Haggerty, Sam Hopkins and a brace from Ryan Brierley consigned the Londoners to a first half hammering. Ray Nasso and Daniel Harrison scored the Broncos’ only tries of the game in the 43rd and 70th minute. By the time Harrison crossed the whitewash, Leigh had scored four consecutive tries courtesy of Tom Armstrong, Liam Kay, Gregg McNally and Hopkins again. Fuifui Moimoi finished off the scoring for the match in the 78th minute, in what was his first score of his Leigh career.

Halifax made their way up to Cumbria last Sunday with a heavy favourites tag on their name. They played like the heavy favourites for the vast majority of the match, 40-0 up at half-time and the game was already over. Alex Brown, Ben Heaton and Ross Divorty all scored within half an hour of the match starting, giving the West Yorkshire side a firm stranglehold on proceedings. Adam Tangata, James Saltonstall, Ben Johnston and Steve Tyrer all added four pointers before the half came to an end. Fax’ and the Raiders were rather well matched in the opening stages of the second half, both scoring a try apiece. Barrow’s scoring account for the match was opened via Brad Marwood while Chris Taylor replied with a try for the visitors four minutes after Marwood crossed. Cameron Pitman and Max Wiper both went over the whitewash in a five minute spell where the hosts made the score much more respectable. The final tries of the game went the way of Halifax through Gareth Potts and Saltonstall again.

Key Battle

The teams that played in the cup matches of last week may be subject to change but the battle at full-back will be an interesting one, should the respective players from both teams stay in that position. Both players are at the younger end of the player age scale, and have bags of talent and potential. Oscar Thomas has been filling in at half-back on occasions this season, to facilitate for the injury of William Barthau. Thomas is highly rated in London and is one of many players in the Broncos squad that has come through the system. For Halifax, James Saltonstall played at full-back and has adapted well to life in the Championship. Making his way over the whitewash on numerous occasions already, the 2014 Championship 1 Young Player of the Year is a speed demon and one that’s very hard to handle. The former Warrington junior is a utility-back and will be chiming into the three-quarter line whenever he can.

Prediction

London have been struggling in the early days of the Championship season, but they’ve still got a 100% win percentage at The Hive after wins over Doncaster and Workington. They’ll be a tough proposition for many teams this year and more so on home turf than anywhere else. Halifax are currently in the top four and will be wanting to enhance their decent form from the opening rounds. However, Broncos coach Andrew Henderson will be targeting many wins in Edgware this season if they’re to compete well. Will his side get a win this Saturday? – London by 12

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