With the business end of the rugby union season looming the league season isn’t yet hallway through, a perfect result for this Essex girl who is a big fan of both codes! It means I am literally never without rugby no matter what time of year. Now I set of to watch London Broncos fully believing that we were deep into Spring; the weather in North London seemed very uncertain of that fact as the sky grew darker the nearer I got. I had a stop off at Cannons Park station to sort out a ticket exchange with a Bath fan; I’d bought myself a ticket for the Amlin Cup Final only to think very carefully about whether I could actually arrive in time to watch the game. I’d been disappointed to hear that the fans of the teams playing were struggling to get their hands on tickets, so with the help of Twitter I managed to find a grateful Bath man to have my ticket. So, a nice start to my trip to the rugby! The Hive (Barnet FC’s ground) is starting to feel a little like home and with my early start I headed for the bar. Now one very unusual thing about the Hive is the food they serve; yes they do the standard burgers but you can also have a baguette or a relatively healthy omelette – unheard of when it comes to sport! The food served at sporting events is a real bug bear of mine; it’s generally chips orientated and unhealthy to say the least. I sat with Howard Kramer, recently departed General Manager at London Skolars, we were joined by a group of Giants fans. We had a great chat about rugby league and pretty much sport in general; one of the great aspects of rugby in general is the friendliness of the fans it adds to the day. In a bid to attract more people to watch what for me is a hugely exciting sport, Broncos were having Ladies Day – I missed out on a flower, but ooh the chocolates were lovely!
Enough of the pre-match ramblings and on to the game, Broncos were coming into the game on the back of a loss to St Helens, the home team scored 48 points to the Broncos 18. The Giants on the other hand had beaten Castleford by a Stevo favourite – the drop goal in a close fought 29 to 28 game. One of the best players in Superleague on his day Danny Brough was likely to be a key factor in the end result. The Broncos defence had the spectre of the scary looking Eorl Crabtree running towards them as their first look at the Giants attack. I actually can’t begin to imagine how it must feel to have such a huge man running at full speed towards you. I think I’d probably turn around and run in the opposite direction! A goal line drop out gave the Giants 2 quick sets in succession but Ukuma Ta’ai knocked the ball on close to the Broncos line. The next Giants attack was to bear more fruit; they seemed to have missed a huge overlap before Crabtree went close. Broncos were again forced into the goal area and on the first tackle Shaun Lunt backed himself and scored the first try with only 5 minutes on the clock. Thomas Minns for Broncos had been injured, so taking the place of a tackler but unable to make the tackle, Lunt took advantage of the gap. Brough hit the posts with the conversion. Scott Moore, Broncos Hooker made a break after Giants had stormed up the field for several sets; the break saw Atelea Vea (not Vear as the programme says?!?!) in to score to the delight of the home crowd. Josh Drinkwater scored the extra 2 putting Broncos in front at home for possibly the first time this season! We had a series of penalties awarded, one seemed to be through crowd pressure against Giants, another because big Eorl Crabtree asked for it! The result of that penalty was a try scored by Ukuma Ta’ai using pure strength; he was like a rhino on a run! Danny Brough added the extras. The lead swung back to the visitors.
There was a particularly shocking piece of behaviour in a union game on Friday evening when Florian Fritz was led bleeding and clearly concussed from the pitch only to return 15 minutes later. Hopefully there’ll be repercussions for the management of Toulouse. I mention this because Broncos no 30 Jon Wallace went down very heavily in a collision, he seemed to be in a lot of trouble, yet after some magic intervention continued playing. Now I don’t know if he had hit his head, but I do know that I’ve seen rugby league players in a terrible state carrying on. Rugby union is trying to tackle the concussion issue, league HAVE to do the same! Rant over, back to the game. Broncos were playing with a lot of intent and determination and a penalty for interference in the first tackle saw a great kick take the home team to half way. It took only 2 tackles for Denny Solomona to score in the corner; the conversion hit the crossbar but Broncos were in the lead again! Broncos were awarded a penalty in front of the Giants posts and Josh Drinkwater took full advantage – the teams went in at half time with the scores on London Broncos 16 Huddersfield Giants 10
As a Broncos fan I was feeling pretty happy at half time – the team had deserved to be in the lead, and that elusive first win felt like a possibility! However the first 5 minutes of the second half were, hmmmmmm, a disaster! Danny Brough kicked off, with a ball along the ground and Broncos spilled the ball. A short pass from Shaun Lunt to Anthony Mullally saw him go across the line to score, Brough converted to put the teams on equal terms again. Drinkwater kicked off and to the dismay of the Broncos fans the ball sailed across the back line. The momentum was given straight back to the Giants and again Ukuma Ta’ai powered in to score, Brough kicked the conversion and a gap opened up. Those 5 minutes were to be a key passage of play. I am now going to deviate a little and give a mention to a fellow fan; in my Saracens reports I’ve mentioned those fans who were clearly top class players in the past. Well of course the same scenario happens in the ‘other’ code, a few rows behind me was a man who yelled at the top of his voice every time Broncos had a penalty given in their favour – ‘ARE YOU SURE’ – over and over, it was actually very funny rather than annoying. But, it really never ceases to amaze me how some people in the stands can see so much more than the referee!
Both teams had a spell of playing good rugby, with their final play failing to reach the objective of a try. But I’d say both put on an entertaining game, Giants had 2 sets close to the Broncos line after a Bronco hand knocked the ball on, they came away with 2 points for their endeavours after winning a penalty. The weather deteriorated as we were treated to a spot of autumn, the resulting rainbows were it has to be said stunning! The story of the half continued with both teams making a great attacking effort but failing to capitalise. However Leroy Cudjoe was to have the last word after he pounced on to a great kick through by Danny Brough, the successful conversion to the final score to London Broncos 16 Huddersfield Giants 30. The Giants fans I’d met in the bar before the game made a point of saying the scoreline was a very flattering one and that Broncos had played well. I agree, again there was much to give hope I feel certain that the first win is just round the corner!