London Broncos 21-14 St Helens


The victory was their first home win over St Helens in 11 years.


By Andrew Belt

A near faultless second-half performance from the London Broncos gave them their first home win over St Helens in 11 years and first in seven games.

London captain Craig Gower was instrumental for the Broncos who had Chris Bailey, Michael Robertson and Tommy Lee claim tries and Michael Witt kick nine points.

The South West London club hinted at a great performance in a first-half which went in St Helen’ favour before producing a terrific second 40 minutes to turn the game around and delight the home fans at Twickenham Stoop.

The two points ensured London would, for a few hours at least, go two points ahead of the bottom two in Super League while a depleted Saints side remain stuck in the bottom play-off places.

James Mendeika made his home debut for the Broncos who welcomed back Olsi Krasniqi to the starting 13.

 A sizeable following from St Helens were present though the Twickenham Stoop faithful made themselves heard as the sun shone in South West London.

It was a cagey opening to proceedings for the two out-of-form sides before London started to apply some pressure on the Saints backline.

A Lance Hohaia grubber led to Dixon being tackled behind the try line in the 14th minute to hand Saints the attacking initiative and Anthony Laffranchi went over three minutes later to the left of the posts on the away side’s first real foray into the Broncos’ 20.

Mark Percival extended the lead with a straightforward conversion and in the 20th minute Saints scored their second try through Adam Swift who profited from a fortuitous grubber hitting a Bronco in the build-up.

Swift injured his leg in putting the ball down – an incident which was put on report – and after five minutes were stopped for treatment the unfortunate winger was stretchered off and applauded by both sets of fans.

Percival missed the goal kick and London replied in the 25th minute when Bailey went over for their opening try of the afternoon, which Witt converted.

The Broncos fans thought they’d equalised when a scuffed grubber by Gower was picked up by Luke Dorn but the full-back knocked on with the game-changing points available.

London then defended stoutly when St Helens were awarded a penalty 20 metres from the home side’s try line with Hohaia inches away from increasing the Saints’ lead five minutes before half-time.

Superb defence by the Broncos once again repelled a dangerous Saints attack just outside the try line with Bailey crushing into Sia Soliola to prevent the away side gaining an important two-score lead at half-time.

Two minutes into the second half Michael Robertson scored on the right wing following a terrific start from the home side, and Witt added his second goal to put the Broncos two points to the good and get the home fans in great voice.

London looked hungry for more though Gower’s bomb evaded Robertson’s grasp after another flowing move by Tony Rea’s men.

A misplaced pass by Hohaia in the Broncos’ territory was picked up by centre Dan Sarginson and the 19-year-old ran 70 metres before the ball was sprayed out to the left and Lee grabbed London’s third try.

The home fans went wild as St Helens appeared to be falling apart in a very poor start to the second half by Nathan Brown’s side.

Josh Jones opened up the Broncos defence on the hour mark as the Saints tried to turn the tide but London held on with the eight-point lead in tact.

Another Gower bomb in the 66th minute nearly split open the Saints defence but the away side emerged unscathed from the test and Dixon was held up a metre from the try line on London’s next attack.

The game was still in the balance though and after yet another searching run from Jones, Percival found Paul Wellens to go over in the 69th minute..

Four points separated the sides with just over ten minutes left and left the Broncos fans with a nail-biting close to a game they had largely dominated.

The Broncos faithful were on their feet when Tommy Makinson was chased and brought down behind his own try line ,and from the resulting drop out London were awarded a penalty which Witt kicked over from 30 metres out.

Saints kicked the ball out from the restart and Witt added a further point with a drop goal to give the Broncos cause for celebration after an important victory from an engaging spectacle at the Stoop.

SWLondoner Broncos Man of the Match: Craig Gower – the Australian produced energetic bursts and kicked into important areas to spearhead the Broncos’ charge.

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