London Broncos v Les Catalans – An Easter Local Derby?

Having travelled to the heart of rugby league country at the start of my sports fest I found myself back at the new home of London Broncos – the Hive – on day 7 of 11 with sports on all but 2 days!  Would I see an entertaining game or even a first win for the Broncos in what is unbelievably the local derby for both teams over Easter?  I had my hospitality attending older brother with me so parked in the posh spaces, going into the bar that is beginning to feel like home before the game, to partake of a fairly healthy baguette – I guess I should have ignored the crisps!

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I took my seat with the hope I always have when I’m watching one of my teams, I have felt that a win was overdue; perhaps this would be the night! I’ve seen some cracking games between these teams; one of them at the Millennium during a Magic weekend was the closest I’ve come to actual tears at a game when Catalans scored a try in the last minute to beat Broncos!  I have a fair amount of passion when it comes to rugby league!  Things didn’t quite go according to plan when Catalans scored what looked like an easy try after a big overlap had appeared, Michael Oldfield was the player to benefit.  Thomas Bosc an immaculate kicker of the ball added the extra 2. The first penalty of the game was awarded to Broncos and they went close but, no try.  We were treated to a number of errors by both teams as penalties were awarded, balls were dropped and forward passes thrown.  Several times Broncos players were pulled into touch in possession of the ball, that’s not something that happens that often in rugby league, naivety or bad decision making on the part of the home team?

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The Catalans players were clearly in the mood to give Bosc a kicking challenge as Zeb Taia scored the next try in the opposite corner; Bosc of course was up for the challenge, he took the score to Broncos 0 Catalans 12.  The first half was a huge physical challenge for the inexperienced Broncos team as they were battered time and again by several very big Catalans players.  I’m still waiting for the day that I look at the 2 teams and see a London team matching size wise, it seems to have been a feature for as long as I’ve been a fan.  Another error on Broncos part when the ball was touched rather than left, running out, forcing a goal line drop out.  Catalans attacked with William Barthau taking a very bad pass; he recovered to simply run through the Broncos to score.  It was almost as if they’d expected him to drop the ball, they stood and watched.  An easy kick this time for Bosc; 18 nil to the visitors.  London were to have the last say in the half when Mason Caton-Brown took a great pass from to run in and score; that brought the home crowd alive and offered some relief.  The kick was missed – the teams went in on Broncos 4 Catalans 18.

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The teams came out after the break and Broncos had a couple of good attacking opportunities to no avail.  It was to be Catalans who took first blood in the half when Eloi Pellisier touched down in the first move after a tackle awarded for a high shot; the kicking machine, Bosc added the 2 points.  Things were running away from the home team; several knock ons later by Broncos and a small exchange of handbags under the posts Catalans scored in the corner this time Vincent Duport touching down.  Bosc shocked us all by missing the kick!  It felt like a hopeless position for Broncos, a disappointment after their performance against Wigan a week earlier.  However a charge down by James Greenwood, taken on by Mike McMeeken in turn passed to Mason Caton-Brown who seemed to fly down the pitch to score his second try!  I have to say I do love an interception try scored at speed, it’s such an exciting sight to see, unless of course it’s being scored against my team!  This time Josh Drinkwater added the extras.  We has a comedy moment when the announcer told us the scoreline of Broncos 10 Catalans 40; bizarrely this is what the scoreboard said too, but the French were indeed only on 28!  The try seemed to energise the home team and as Catalans failed to control a ball kicked on by Ben Farrar it was instead taken by Nesiasi Mataitonga who touched down in the corner; Drinkwater in a Bosc like manner scored the extra 2 from the touchline!  Things were getting exciting and that tingling thing called hope made an appearance again!  Broncos weren’t done with the scoring as they looked like a team who wanted to play across the whole pitch at last, Denny Solomona added his name to the scorecard as he touched down in the corner.  Drinkwater again kicked a fine conversion to take the score to Broncos 22 Catalans 28.

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In a tweet a posted later I got all confused about timings and suddenly made rugby league a 90 minute game; that’s the other shape ball!  Had there been an extra 10 minutes London Broncos may well have found their first win, as it went the score finished on the 22 to 28; my last note?  If only Broncos had played like this from the start!  I’m writing this late after a full weekend of sport so can look at the result for Broncos away at Hull FC, another loss at 40 points to 4, not so good, but I still believe the wins will come for this team, they are putting every effort in each week, next up?  A wounded St Helens at Langtree Park, could be a tough game, but I know this group of players will put their best efforts in.

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