London Broncos book their place in Challenge Cup semi-final after victory over Sheffield Eagles


The team will now face Wigan Warriors.

By Andrew Belt

Sheffield  Eagles 10 -29  London Broncos

London Broncos booked their place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals after overcoming Sheffield Eagles at the Don Valley Stadium on Friday.

Michael Witt kicked off the scoring for Tony Rea’s men before Jamie Soward, Michael Robertson, Shane Rodney and Rhodri Lloyd also touched down.

Witt and Soward added two goals apiece with Soward kicking a drop goal to leave head coach Rea delighted at the prospect of a first semi-final appearance since the Broncos’ only final at Wembley in 1999.

“It’s massive for the club,” he said.

“We’re disappointed league-wise but I made it my mission to come and do something special in this club and get to Wembley.

“We knew this would be tough and it was good to play like that in the second half. We kicked well, chased well and the forwards laid the platform.”

Witt kicked off at a boisterously noisy Don Valley Stadium and there was an immediate altercation which gave London a scrum ten metres from the Sheffield try line.

Tony Clubb knocked on with a try at his mercy and the Eagles acquitted themselves well in the opening five minutes.

Dan Sarginson was held up on the line in the seventh minute as the Broncos sought to gain a stranglehold in the game but Sheffield counter-attacked with menace to bring a chorus of ‘Eagles!’ from the home end.

Both sides were dropping the ball regularly with perhaps the occasion affecting their carries.

Of greater quality was the 40-20 kicked by Dominic Brambani which gave the home side their first real chance to attack the Broncos but the same man grubbered erratically near the try line.

London made the breakthrough in the 22nd minute as Witt evaded a few challenges to touch down and he goaled his effort to put the Broncos six points ahead.

Sheffield got on the scoreboard in the 26th minute through Scott Turner following an aggressive run and offload from Menzie Yere and ultimately punished Tommy Lee’s knock-on which gave the Eagles a scrum 15 metres out.

Brambini missed the opportunity to equalise with the conversion and three minutes later Soward scored a terrific solo try, arcing around the Eagles’ back line, for London to edge further in front.

Witt missed the goal attempt from wide on the left and Soward didn’t fare much better with a drop goal attempt in the 35th minute which hit the upright.

Sheffield immediately counter-attacked and Brambani’s cross-field kick on the last tackle only just missed his target to serve as a warning to London of the Eagles’ attacking intent.

Misi Taulapapa made a 60-metre break for the hosts but once again, handling errors let the Championship side down and a highly competitive 40 minutes was completed with the Sheffield fans proud of their players’ efforts.     

The next try would be crucial and Turner was just metres short from registering for Sheffield but Jamie O’ Callaghan put in a great defensive block to save London’s skin.

Robertson scored a fortunate try in the 48th minute after the ball fell into his path from a Tom Armstrong mistake and Witt converted to give the visitors some breathing space in the tie.

Rodney extended London’s lead on the hour mark and this time Soward converted to all but confirm the Broncos’ place in the semi-finals.

Soward kicked a drop goal three minutes later to make up for his first half effort to silence the supportive Sheffield public.

Rhodri Lloyd then got in on the act as London’s better fitness kicked in against their semi-professional opponents and Soward collected a second goal.

Yere gave the home crowd something to cheer as he bundled over for their first points of the second half in the 68th minute and Pat Walker converted.

London will now face either Wigan Warriors in the semi-finals at a neutral venue on July 27/28.

SWLondoner Man of the Match – Jamie Soward – In a scrappy game, punctuated by a high error count, Soward took the initiative and provided the one true moment of quality in the game with his try as well as exemplifying the kind of leadership London will need if they are to make the showpiece Wembley final.

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