I was looking forward to a game of rugby union between England and Scotland A at Welford Road in Leicester, but woke up to news that the game had been cancelled due to positive Covid tests in the Scotland camp. London Skolars were away in Keighley, a long trek, but happily Broncos were at home. I bought a ticket for my first league game at Vallis Way for a very long time. The visitors were Swinton Lions who’d come from Greater Manchester. Stuart Littler is their coach, a man I’d seen play many times.
My seat was in the Esast Stand, the same stand I’d watched Saracens rack up 60 points against Ealing Trailfinders from a few weeks before, it was hot sunshine that day, not so much for this match in spite of being in mid summer. I was sat with mostly Swinton fans around me. They weren’t feeling hugely optimistic, their team had played 10 and lost 10, with a negative points difference of 223, figures that remind me of Broncos Superleague days at times. Broncos on the other hand had 6 wins from their 10 games and a positive points difference of 42.
However it was the visitors who scored first, with Rhodri Lloyd going over the line, Swinton had Martyn Ridyard in their team, a talented player, he stepped up and converted to put Swinton 6 ahead.
I was unfamiliar with several of the Broncos players, bit I and everyone else in the ground had a name etched into their minds as 22 year old speedster Gideo Boafo showed his heels, narrowly missing out on a try, however he wasn’t to be denied at the second attempt, he scored one of those spectacular flying through the air rugby league tries!
There are sevral play makers across the game that stand out and are well known throughout, one such, Jarrod Sammut. He’s been playing his trade for 10 years in this country, including a season with Wigan, he makes things happen and that was most certainly the case for Broncos second try. He put up a high ball and was then there to bundle the receiving Swinton player into touch. That gave the ball back to Broncos, with scrums no longer used to re-start the game things are so much quicker and lo, Broncos moved the ball to the speedster Boafo again and he had his second try. Chris Hankinson who’d spent some time at Swinton was on kicking duties, and he added another 2 points to his tally, having also converted the first try.
Abbas Miski, a Lebanese international, new to Broncos this season having featured at Manley Sea Eagles , was next to go over the line for Broncos, we were 31 minutes into the game and the score was Broncos 18 Swinton 6. Now rugby league is a game of momentum and things can shift within moments. It wasn’t exactly moments but 3 minutes later Cobi Green showed his heels after a Broncos kick was gathered, Ridyard added the extras. A kick was Broncos undoing for Swinton’s next score. A Ridyard kick was fumbled and Mitch Cox picked the ball up, passing to Mike Butt he went over to the delight of the visiting fans. The successful conversion saw the teams go in at half-time on 18 apiece.
Things got better for the Swinton fans 5 minutes into the second half as Luis Roberts ran in a very good try, he was to leave the field with a worrying looking injury later in proceedings but he scored a memorable 4 pointer, Ridyard again added the extras.
Swinton were back in front, but Gideon Boafo hadn’t finished, after 10 minutes of hard fought back and forth he found himself with ball in hand and the corner approaching, another spectacular try, this was his hat-trick and his name was definitely etched on my mind! His reaction to the try is on Bronco’s Twitter feed and well worth a look.
That momentum thing had definitely now swung Broncos way and their next try came from the kick off, Abbas Miski scored his second after a succession of quick passes.
Will Lovell, a player I’ve watched at both Broncos and Skolars , was the next scorer, having looked at my photos, he seemed to get tangled up with the referee, but Sir was unable to prevent him scoring and Broncos increased their lead,.
The score had moved to London Broncos 32 Swinton Lions 24. Jarrod Sammut had really been instrumental throughout for Broncos and he has the last word with a great run being finished off with a leap over the line, the leap was under the posts leading to a successful conversion. The game finished on Broncos 38 Swinton 24. Although disappointing for the travelling fans their team gave them something to be happy about, I heard one of them describe the game as ‘very honourable’. It was an enjoyable game, no question.