Having had a day in the sun at the Anniversary Games it was back to summer rugby – rugby league. The only snag is no one had told the weather, a cold, wet, blustery afternoon was the scene for the visit of the Sheffield Eagles to The Hive.
With lots of sports gallivanting I don’t have the time to write a match report for In The Loose – so this will be along the lines of a match report.
This was the 3rd meeting for the 2 teams, the first was in a freezing cold Doncaster stadium as part of a double header. Broncos suffered injuries to 3 key players in that game and lost by 40 points to 6.
The teams next match up was in Blackpool and was a very different affair. Broncos looked like men possessed and won the game by 46 points to 6. It seemed unlikely that we’d see a similar scoreline.
Andrew Henderson was back in a playing shirt for the game – the team looks to be a different outfit with him on the field, he brings a calm along with his leadership.
The game started as it was to carry on for Broncos with 2 players colliding and Jonathan Wallace being led from the field in some difficulty – he was taken away for a concussion assessment. The referee was slow to stop the play, something that should happen straight away when we’re looking at head injuries.
Broncos started strongly as they have at home in recent games, the ball emerged as Rhys Lovegrove was tackled – Hendserson saw space out to his right and spun the ball out- Wes Naiqama powered over the line. He’s been in wonderful form with the boot this season and converted the try from close to the touch line.
Broncos maintained the pressure but didn’t increase their score. Lovegrove was the next to fall to the ground after a tackle – he looked to be in a very bad way. He was led away and wouldn’t return. The Broncos were falling like flies!
It was the Eagles turn to pile on the pressure, they went very close, but a forward pass at the last moment meant they remained scoreless.
Oscar Thomas had been kicking well during play and had caused a few issues with high balls, he put in a great 40/20 kick, Rob Worrincy missing the ball as it bounced out of touch.
Things went from bad to worse for Broncos as Joe Keyes was the next to drop to the floor after a late and suspiciously high tackle. The Touch Judge was very close to the action but seemingly couldn’t make any comment on the incident. The matter was put on report yet not penalised which seemed a bit strange!
As well as concussion being a key word for the half – knock ons certainly featured a lot, especially for The Eagles and the teams went in at half time with the Broncos leading by their single converted try.
The Eagles came out if the ‘sheds’ looking like a totally different team! They had successive sets and scored an easy try through Ryan Miller who leapt to gather a kick unheeded. Pat Walker showed he could do anything Naiqama could with a great conversion.
A mention for Eagles no 15 – John Davies I believe – he’s an unlikely looking rugby league player but he had a great game. Made yards aplenty, acted as playmaker at times, kicking when needed to.
The referee who had been slow to blow his whistle for the injuries was way to quick when Eagles lost the ball close to the Broncos line, he should have allowed the advantage. Broncos lost all the advantage when Wallace – back on the pitch (should he have been?) – dropped the ball. The Eagles took full advantage scoring in the corner after a great pass by Davies. Ryan Miller was the scorer – from where I was sitting there was a hint that he dropped the ball before he touched down, but the try stood.
Pat Walker kicked another cracker to stretch his teams’ lead. The referee made an error later as a Broncos flop resulted in an Eagles knock on, I felt it should have been a penalty for the visitors. Broncos lost the ball on the first tackle as Naiqama dropped a poor pass.
There were some very odd cries when the ball was kicked out by the Eagles – with several in the crowd wanting the play to go back to where the ball was kicked – wrong game methinks.
The Broncos made the most of an Eagles goal line drop out working the ball well to Matt Garside who scored in the corner to allow Naiqama another chance to show his kicking prowess, he duly obliged with another great kick.
The Broncos were tackling much better than they had been for virtually the whole of last season, I can’t even imagine how many times I shouted – Man and Ball – last year, it’s been a rare occurrence this season. They soaked up a lot of pressure.
The Eagles were awarded a penalty in a highly kickable position but decided to run with the ball, he play came to nothing, a penalty felt like a no brainer with the scores tied.
Wes Naiqama took the Broncos chance when it came after the Eagles were penalised for a high tackle, another great kick put the hime team ahead.
We had another delay for an injury, this time for an Eagle – it looked a serious injury again, I can only hope that all those injured on the day are ok!
Being down to a ‘team’ of 15 men was bound to take its toll on the Broncos; a dubious penalty for offside saw a wonderful kick to touch for the Eagles, they gained a huge about of territory and capitalised on it with a try for Menzie Yeri – another unlikely looking player. Strangely the conversion was a much easier one, but was missed.
The Eagles did however take the game out of Broncos reach as Eddie Battie powered over the line to score under the posts. Pat Walker made no mistake with the kick. The game finished on London Broncos 14 Sheffield Eagles 22.
This was the final ‘regular season’ game for the 2 teams – The Eagles finishing 3rd go on to play in The Middle 8’s for a place in Superleague. The Broncos finished this spell in 7th position and enter a kind of cup competition with silverware and pride to play for.
I had quite a long chat with Andrew Henderson after the game, he clearly has plans for the London team, he speaks with knowledge and passion. I hope he’s given the time to take the Broncos back to the top league.