London Broncos 16 – Warrington Wolves 44
By Rachel Arnett (courtesy of swpix)
Warrington picked up their first win of the new campaign last weekend against Hull FC and were looking to back that up with a second victory down at The Hive in round four against the London Broncos.
The side from the capital went into the fourth round tie without a win under their belt so were keen to kick-start their season against the visiting Wolves.
The Wolves’ last visit to the Broncos saw them record a memorable 82-10 away win; a similar result this time out would see last year’s Grand Finalists put their first real stamp on this season’s competition.
Team news for the afternoon saw Matty Russell make his first Super League appearance for the Wolves off the bench. From the 19, Joel Monaghan and Micky Higham stepped down with Rhys Evans coming in. The Broncos made four changes to the 17 that played at Bradford with Maconi, Atkins, Bishay and Solomona coming in.
The opening half saw the Broncos dominate control of the game despite the Wolves being the first on the scoreboard.
Asotasi crossed for the visitors after just three minutes with Ratchford adding the conversion but this was followed by the Broncos stepping up their attack with three unanswered tries. The first from Slyney on eight minutes before Farrar and Minns added to the board.
The Wolves responded to narrow the gap. Chris Bridge was the first on 25 minutes before Rhys Evans’ try in the corner took the visitors to within two points. The touchline conversions proved too testing and with both missed the Broncos went into half time 16-14 in front.
The second half saw a reverse of fortune for both teams as the Wolves fought back, keeping the Broncos scoreless. Try scorers for the Wolves in the second forty included Ormsby, Atkins and Rhys Evans totalling six tries between them as the visitors took a strangle-hold on the game.
Wolves opened the attack and started their first set with a strong drive forward from Waterhouse to gain early ground. Play switched over to the right passing through several pairs of hands to reach Rhys Evans on the wing seeing the visitors come close in their first attack.
O’Brien then reacted fast to a charge-down to regain early possession on half way and from this opened up the first try with Asotasi crossing on three minutes. Ratchford’s boot was on target to make it 0-6.
The Broncos responded well on eight minutes. A high ball was fumbled by Rhys Evans handing the Broncos a scrum 20 metres out. This was the first real test for the Wolves’ defence and it was broken by Slyney who crossed for the equalising try. Bishay converted to level the score at 6-6.
The Wolves kept up their earlier attack, keeping the ball alive with quick hands but the Broncos matched up to this with their response in defence to keep them out.
It was London who were next to score through Farrar; space opened up down the left for him to cross in the corner. Bishay added the touchline conversion to take the lead.
This score was followed up by a try from Minns on 23 minutes. The conversion was missed but the lead extended to 16-6.
This was the turning point in the game. The Wolves came back with a response two minutes later when Bridge twisted out of the tackle to reach over for a try. The conversion drifted wide 16-10.
The Broncos stepped up in their defence with Jordan Atkins collecting a try-saving ball but this was cancelled out by an error on half way handing the advantage back to the Wolves. Myler and Atkins were held up just over the line; a knock-on by the Broncos going in for a tackle handed the visitors a repeat set from close range. On 32 minutes Rhys Evans took advantage of the field position and crossed for the visitors. Ratchford’s conversion attempt hit the post to deny the extras 16-14.
Both sides pushed right up until half time but the home side held on to the two-point lead.
The visitors came out a rejuvenated side after the break. They started as they were to continue; tackling the Broncos in-goal forcing a repeat set.
0n 44 minutes space opened up down the middle and Ormsby found the gap to break away - with O’Brien in support - to cross over under the posts. Ratchford added the extras to take the lead. 16-20.
The next score came soon after with Evans crossing for his second. The Wolves had taken hold of the game in the opening stages of the second forty.
The Wolves hit the 30-point mark with a try from Atkins under the posts on 66 minutes despite the best efforts of the Broncos’ defence.
The Wolves’ defence was proving too strong in the second half; preventing the Broncos from making any ground and forcing deep kicks down field.
Rhys Evans added a further two tries to his total for the afternoon. The first on 69 minutes intercepting a loose ball and the second saw him dive over in the corner with six minutes left on the clock.
The match ended with a length of the pitch interception try from Atkins on 79 minutes. This score came on the back of the Broncos building pressure at the opposite end of the field; held up over the line on several occasions.
Head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: “We weren’t happy with the way we played in the first half. London were very spirited; they were very good and didn’t disappoint us in what we expected having watched them against Bradford the week before. Some aspects of our game weren’t quite on in the first half but we had very good control in the second playing with the intensity and speed that we like to. We understood London would have their part to play in the match and they played it very well in that first half.
“We were very good not to concede a point in the second half which was pleasing too. They were different conditions today; playing against the unknown in terms of not knowing some of our opponents as well as we know others. Certainly the pitch was different; it was a narrow pitch and it took us a bit of time to come to terms with some of that. We wanted to try and run around them rather than punch through them; once we started to punch through them in the second half - with a different approach - we were more direct and I thought we got a handle on the game. That’s probably our first sign of summer rugby too; it was a fairly warm day and it took its toll on some players earlier than normal.”
Ben Farrar, Jordan Atkins, Mason Caton-Brown, Thomas Minns, Jamie O’Callaghan, James Cunningham, Michael Bishay, Nick Slyney, Scott Moore, Olsi Krasniqi, Alex Foster, Mike McMeeken, Matt Cook
Subs: Carl Forster, George Griffin, Iliess Macani , Denny Solomona
Tries: Slyney, Farrar, Minns
Goals: Bishay (2)
Stefan Ratchford, Rhys Evans, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Gene Ormsby, Gareth O’Brien, Richie Myler, Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Roy Asotasi, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Currie
Subs: Matthew Russell, Glenn Riley, James Laithwaite, Ben Evans
Tries: Asotasi, Bridge, R Evans (4), Ormsby, Atkins (2)
Goals: Ratchford (4)
Photo Gallery courtesy of Bob Brough