London seal a place in the Million Pound Game with a tough victory over Halifax. Here’s our verdict…
The empasis was all on London as they chased a place in the Million Pound Game, and they were on the front foot in the opening ten minutes as only strong defence from the visitors denied them early on.
Halifax were rewarded for their defensive efforts by back-to-back tries when they took control themselves, and suddenly a shock result looked on the cards.
The first came following two repeat sets as Ben Kaye dived under Chester Butler to score from dummy half, with the video referee confirming the decision of a try despite protests from the Broncos.
Straight from the restart, London conceded another penalty and Fax were in again, with captain Scott Murrell chipping towards the left corner and Steve Tyrer leaping ahead of Ben Hellewell to touch down. Tyrer converted both for a 12-0 lead.
London quickly came back into the contest though, and responded with two quick-fire tries of their own. As they pushed the line Kieren Moss had to push a kick into touch for Fax, but straight from the scrum Jarrod Sammut skipped past a defender to score under the posts.
They kept up the pressure, and after a brilliant charge by Daniel Hindmarsh was stopped just short of the line by Ben Johnston, Eloi Pelisser dived over from dummy half, with Sammut goaling both tries to level the scores.
It looked like the tide had turned but a penalty brought Halifax into good position and they worked their way over again. After Murrell was held up over the line, Adam Tangata evaded a tackle and reached out to the ground the ball on the line, with the video referee again required to confirm that that the prop hadn’t been tackled.
Despite good pressure towards the end of the first half, Fax managed to take that four-point advantage into the break, but they almost lost it withing three minutes of the restart when Kieran Dixon was inches from grounding a kick from Sammut.
Murrell’s superb 40/20 gave Fax an opportunity of their own but they couldn’t convert, and London weren’t having much luck either as both sides searched for the next, potentially crucial, try.
In the end it came just short of the hour mark for the hosts, thanks to some unusual interplay between Sammut and Dixon. The half-back put the kick up and the winger knocked it back to Sammut, who managed to pull of a brilliant offload on the ground back to Dixon to go into the corner. Sammut added the conversion to put the Broncos in the lead for the first time in the match.
Their advantage was made a little safer when they scored again with 13 minutes left on the clock, as a break was finished off by a smart move to the left where Elliot Kear was slipped into space, and he drove himself for the line to open up a six-point lead.
Halifax had their brief chances as they continued to compete to the end, but London were able to control the final minutes and see the game out, culminating in a drop goal from Sammut with seconds left on the clock to round off the victory that puts them one game from Super League.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Halifax fight to the end
The season was effectively over for Halifax after six defeats from six, but they made the long trip to the capital and gave their all against the promotion-chasing Broncos.
London didn’t lead at all in the first hour of the game, and there looked a real chance of an upset as great defensive effort combined with three good tries to put the part-timers ahead at the break.
Although they fell just short in the end here, they have not disgraced themselves at all in this competition and should head into next season’s Championship confident of punching above their weight again.
London will need to sharpen up
The win was the most important things and that is what they got, but whether they travel to Hull or Toronto for the Million Pound Game, they will need to improve on this performance.
Jarrod Sammut leads the side and was outstanding, but there were key mistakes from other players as they bombed a number of potential tries with errors.
Whoever they face next week will want to get in their faces just as Halifax did, and they will need to deal with that contest and then sharpen up when in good position as well.
Man of the Match – Jarrod Sammut (London)
It was a fascinating contest between Sammut and Scott Murrell, as the two half-backs led their sides around the park and fought for control of this evenly-matched clash.
Both led their troops throughout the game and looked to dominate with the boot, but in the end Sammut just came out on top and got his side over the line.
He’s been a star in these Qualifiers, and they will need him at his absolute best next week to potentially lead them into Super League.
London Broncos 23
Tries: Sammut, Pelissier, Dixon, Kear
Goals: Sammut (3)
Drop Goals: Sammut
Tries: Kaye, Tyrer, Tangata
Drop Goals: n/a
London: Walker; Dixon, Hellewell, KEar, Williams; Pitts, Sammut; Evans, Pelissier, Ioane; Hindmarsh, Gee, Battye.
Interchanges: Spencer, Lovell, Adebiyi, Davies.
Halifax: Woodburn-Hall; Moss, Tyrer, Heaton, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Fleming, Kaye, Fairbank; Tangata, Butler, Moore.
Interchanges: Curtis Davies, Connor Davies, Douglas, Cooper.
Referee: Gareth Hewer