One of the joys of having a game dictated to by Sky TV is the introduction of Thursday evening Superleague. I won’t deny that I’ve enjoyed having the joys of rugby league on my screen on a weekday but the prospect of a drive to Edgeware on a work night didn’t fill me with joy! More to the point for London Broncos, it’s an awfully long journey for all of our competitors, crowds are flagging and a late night trek after the game for even the most loyal fans must have made the trip an unlikely one for many. I chose to get the M25 out of the way early and arrived at the ground at about 5:30, I was able to make use of the gym for a fairly hefty £10 but good use of my time all the same. Weights lifted I had what was predominantly a freezing cold shower, that was a wake up call! Then made my way down to the bar; it was apparent from the number of black and yellow shirts that a fair few Castleford fans had made the journey, although in talking to one fan he explained that there would normally be at least 20 kids on the bus, this evening only 2. So a clear knock on effect of the choice of fixture.
The Tigers have had a great start to the season losing only one game, so riding high; Broncos on the other hand have not a point to their name. One thing was clear at the start; the vociferous Cas fans were going to out shout the home fans. Broncos kicked off and weathered the first few attacks; one real positive through the whole game was the capacity of Denny Solomona to take the high ball. An early forward pass by the Tigers totally missed by the touch judge gave me the chance to ask myself what on earth the men with flags are for! Fortunately that move was thwarted by a knock on. The first penalty was awarded to Broncos after Michael Channing, a former Bronco, seemed to get a bit confused, running behind his own player. Rather than gain more territory Broncos took a tap penalty, the ball was knocked on by Mason Caton-Brown, no benefit gained. Castleford took advantage of a poor pass by Scott Moore in midfield, with Channing being instrumental in the build up to scoring the first try for his new team. The ball had been played from one side of the pitch to the other in the build-up and a try in the corner seemed inevitable. Jamie Ellis added the 2 points.
Michael Shenton looked to have scored a try on 20 minutes but had a few toes in touch and was denied by the video ref. Less than 2 minutes later however Oliver Holmes went over the line after Castleford surged forward en masse. Ellis again scored the extra 2 points. Broncos went close after a great run by Jamie O’Callaghan, the result was a forced kick out by Castleford to give London their second set in a good attacking position. Jamie Clare made no mistake in clearing his lines after the second kick on the 5th tackle. Tigers were awarded a penalty as Matt Cook laid on the attacker, Michael Shenton leapt to take a high ball from Liam Finn to score his 100th try for the Tigers; Ellis kicked to add the 2 points. Things got worse for London as Castleford again surged forward; Atelea Vea was sin binned for what was judged to be a professional foul. James Clare went over the line moments later but was denied as his foot was just in touch. In the next set Broncos the ball was knocked on and a forward pass made, neither seen by the touch judge! Pointless people so many times! The next video ref decision went the way of Castleford after Craig Huby had the ball pulled away by Solomona, Liam Finn picked the ball up and touched down between the posts. It took the video ref an age to make the decision, when the action had literally happened right in front of Ben Thaler. Watching again on the TV the decision seemed a straight forward one to me! Jamie Ellis again converted the try. Tigers had another attacking chance just before half time and had Clare passed they may well have scored again, the ball was however knocked on in the last move. Castleford Tigers went in at half time with a 24 point lead.
Castleford kicked off in the second half and I watched in amazement as 3 Broncos players just stood and watched the ball, eventually O’Callaghan decided to catch it! Tigers scored their first try of the second half after 5 minutes as Craig Huby walked through a gap in the defence; Jamie Ellis obliged with the extra 2 points. Justin Carney a man who clearly puts in an awful lot of time in the gym working on his legs, ran in the next try after Shenton who had a cracking game, broke away running half the length of the pitch to pass to him for an easy score. Again Ellis converted the try. Luke Dorn a former Broncos player and a thoroughly great man was the next to benefit from a Shenton run as he took the pass to score 4 points, Ellis converted to take the score to 42 nil. There was a theme going here and so that theme continued, as this time Michael Shenton picked a great line to score a try for himself, after Broncos had kicked out from the kick off, Ellis? Of course added the extras. I don’t know who at this stage was Man of the Match but it surely had to be Shenton.
The Sky commentary drives me totally mad, but as I listen it’s great to hear London Skolars mentioned, they really are doing great work in spreading the rugby league word in the South! Castleford looked very impressive and it was good to see how disappointed Daniel Flemming was to knock the ball on in spite of his team leading by 48 points. Justin Carney scored his second try after there was a total mix up in the Broncos defence; a harder kick for Ellis but he still scored the 2, a very good score for him. The score stood at a horror 54 nil. What I’m about to say next considering the end result is probably going to sound slightly crazy; I have to give credit to the Broncos players, they didn’t give up at any stage of this game. Broncos had a good attacking spell and James Woodburn-Hall was held up over the line, they forced the drop out and piled on the pressure as they were awarded a penalty on the Tigers line; the attack ended after the ball was knocked on. The final 10 minutes of the game were far more even and to the delight of the Broncos fans they were to have the last word. Broncos had 2 sets after forcing a goal line drop out and a Castleford knock on; Mike McKeeken scored a deserved try; Josh Drinkwater converted to give the home team 6 points. With 7 games and 7 losses it has been a tough start for London Broncos but those final 10 minutes give hope, to take such a battering and to keep battling shows a strength of character; that elusive win will come.