London Broncos recorded a comprehensive win over top 5 hopefuls Wakefield in a heated season opener with Eddie Battye starring in a spirited Broncos side with a Man Of The Match performance in his first Super League start.
A late try from Elliot Kear sealed London Broncos’ first victory in the Super League after a four-year hiatus from the top echelons of rugby league.
Top 5 contenders Wakefield, however, started the better of the two teams and opened up a 12-point lead in as many minutes through the middle of a shocked Broncos defence, with Craig Kopczak and Ryan Hampshire going over for the scores. The Broncos re-grouped and hit back soon after with a well-worked move down the right-hand side, leaving Matty Fleming in acres of space to cross the whitewash.
Wakefield answered back almost imminently with a classy block play down the left edge and Danny Brough converted to put the visitors 18-6 up. The Broncos’ belief didn’t seem to falter despite being under pressure for the first 20 minutes and they replied just 24 minutes in to cut the deficit to 8. Broncos continued to battle against the massive Wakefield pack with a sublime tactical kicking game from Matty Fozard and Jordan Abdull and crossed late in the half through Kieran Dixon.
Wakefield looked to put the pressure on London and consolidate their lead of 4 before the break; however, Abdull provided a sublime 40:20 to get London within 10m of the Wakefield line, after which Eddie Battye crossed for his first try of the game. Dixon converted and Broncos led 20-18 with just 5 minutes of the half to go. Wakefield struggled and conceded once more before the half-time hooter when Brough failed to make touch from a penalty and London went in 26-18 up.
Following a disappointing first half, Wakefield came out firing with David Fifita speeding the Trinity tempo at the play of the ball. Kyle Wood capitalised soon after with a 40m run to set Wakefield up on the London try-line, in which he capitalised and crossed to close the London lead to 2 after a Brough conversion. Broncos, however, answered back soon after, with Rhys Williams and Eloi Pellisier crossing to extend their lead to 12 points. With 15 minutes to go, Wakefield looked to get back in the game but crucial errors and fortunate calls for London resulted in a goal line drop out with which Danny Brough disagreed and was subsequently sin-binned for dissent.
London shut up shop with a defensively sound final 10 minutes before Elliot Kear crossed the whitewash late on and capped off an historic 42-24 win for the men from the capital.
Abdull – an astute signing
While James Cunningham and Jordan Abdull were both pivotal playmakers in London’s victory, Abdull shouldered the majority of the kicking duties and proved selectors right with an outstanding tactical kicking performance for the Broncos.
Fifita’s passion is positive
David Fifita exploded into the game off the bench and proved a force to be reckoned with once again, carrying at least three London players with him per tackle for long periods. Even when Wakefield were behind and under pressure, Fifita probed and created with the ball as well as fronting up as a primary defender, ultimately coming off looking distressed at the result. While it’s disappointing for Wakefield fans to lose this time out, they can be positive about their marquee prop’s attitude.
Points-a-plenty for Broncos
While London looked slightly under par in defence throughout, the Broncos had no trouble scoring with scintillating play from their play-makers and outside backs to cross for 42 points. Having averaged just shy of 40 points per game in the Championship last year, it looks as though Broncos have kept their attacking intent and improved it for Super League.
Weary Wakefield defence looked ‘lost’ for a frustrated Chris Chester
In his post-match press conference, Chris Chester picked apart an underwhelming Wakefield defensive effort, alluding to big issues with defensive reads on the edges. While Chester was somewhat harsh, Wakefield need to improve defensive efforts if they are to better last season’s exceptional fifth position.
London Broncos 42
Tries: Fleming, Williams 2, Dixon, Battye (2), Fozard, Kear
Goals: Abdull, Dixon (4)
Drop Goals: n/a
Wakefield Trinity 24
Tries: Kopczak, Hampshire, Miller, Wood
Goals: Brough (4)
Drop Goals: n/a
London Broncos: Walker, Dixon, Fleming, Kear, Williams, Abdull, Cunningham, Richards, Fozard, Mason, Pitts, Gee, Yates.
Interchanges: Battye, Lovell, Ioane, Pelissier.
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Brough, Arona, Randell, Kopczak, Ashurst, Batchelor, King.
Interchanges: Crowther, England, Wood, Fifita.