After a day and a half watching Essex play the Australians it was time to get back to the funny shaped ball – the rugby league one anyway!  The joy of being a fan of both codes means that rugby doesn’t stop for me!  Watching that is, not playing!

London Broncos have been a passion of mine form the very first game I went to in 1996; for some reason they’re the reason I shout loud at sport!  It’s a good job I don’t do the same at cricket – I can see I’d be ejected!

After a really tough season in Superleague in 2014 I have to say I’m enjoying watching my team in The Kingstone Press Championship, and not just because they’re winning a few games.  The league seems to have a grittier form of the game if that makes sense.

The opponents for the day were Whitehaven RL – another team with a rich history; they were formed in 1948 from the Whitehaven Miners Welfare team.  In their first game they beat Hull 5 nil in front of a crowd of 9,000 that went on to beat the Australian tourists 14-11 before a crowd of 10,917 at the Recreation Ground in 1956.  In 1965 they beat the touring New Zealand team 12 – 5.  A rugby league friend Steve McCormack spent a very happy spell at Whitehaven as their Head Coach – when I spoke to him he was full of praise for the club.


As with all the clubs who’ve visited the Hive they brought a good number of loud and loyal fans with them, hugely impressive when you consider where they have to travel from.

And so to the game:

Whitehaven (cutting that to Haven)  kicked off  and Broncos got held in their own half.  We had a couple of sets before Haven were deemed to be offside close to their line, Jason Walton powered through the tacklers, scoring on his debut,  Wes Naiqama who’s been in great kicking form converted the try.

The ball went straight out from the kick off giving Bronco another great opportunity, but a poor kick on the last saw the advantage come to nothing.   The referee missed several, shall we say, clumsy tackles.  One such was a high shot by Naiqama, it sometimes feels like they’re allowed after all!

Ted Cappelhow went down with what looked like a nasty head injury – he was lead from the pitch, another moan type comment.  I still don’t think rugby league has the whole head injury thing sorted out.  Another Haven player looked to have taken a knock to the head but he was allowed to make his own decision and carry on, how long before we have a serious injury as a result of such decisions.

Oscar Thomas was next to get his name on the score card as he backed himself and seemed to run straight through the Haven defenders, it was a great individual try, the defence seemed to be baffled! Naiqama added the extras to put Broncos 4 points ahead.

Broncos seem to have developed a bit of a habit of scoring then turning off; my friend Richard, who I have to say kept me chuckling throughout, he made the bet (for nothing) that Haven would come back – and so he was proved right. Haven are a team who don’t give up – and after moving the ball out to the wing Declan Hulme scored in the corner.  The kick was a hard one and was missed.
Haven scored again, this time I strongly believe a forward pass was missed , however that to on side it was a cracking try; Chris Taylor scored.  The kick was much kinder and Grant Gore scored the 2.

There always seems to be a Comedy of Errors spell in most games and we had such a time before half time, balls were dropped, poor kicks were made, offsides happened.

Rhys Williams who often seems to be in space waiting for the ball, made a great break for Broncos, a penalty was given to the home team and the ball made its way to Matt Garside – on the Far Side – as Richard wittingly stated!  Cue another laugh on my part, I am easily amused!  The conversion by Naiqama saw the ball almost having a life on its own, it hung in the air before dropping in slow motion over the posts.


It had looked as if Haven were going to pull back but another break by Oscar Thomas followed by a deceptive kick by William Barthau,  it sailed over the head of the Haven defender into the waiting hands of Iliess Macani, he looked shocked to have received the ball and hesitated before scoring in the corner.  A superb kick by Naiqama saw the teams go in at half time with the scores on Broncos 24 Haven 10.

The 2nd half started with a forward pass by Broncos, we had a funny moment as Rhys Williams told the Touch Judge – ‘it wasn’t by much’ – I’m not sure the by how much counts!  That was followed by further amusement when Garisde’s boot went flying, a fellow Broncos fan Mark came out with a string of funnies.  It wasn’t quite so funny that it took him an age to put it back on when he and the boot were finally reunited.

Declan Hulme for Haven showed that he could do anything Oscar Thomas could when he walked through the Broncos defence to score a great try – it looked like the defenders were enthralled – but he deserved the points, it was a great effort.  The got the Haven fans singing, making an impressive sound.  The try wasn’t converted.

The home crowd won a forward pass decision after it wasn’t given by the touch judges, the crowd shouted the whistle went – not so sue it was actually forward by Haven.   They were to score again however, James Newton gathered the ball after his kick hit a Broncos player on the head, landing in Newton’s arms.  Gore added the extras and gap had well and truly narrowed!


Declan Hulme showed his turn of speed after a Broncos knock on had gifted possession to Haven, he stormed up the pitch to score under the posts, the easy conversion by Gore saw the score evened at 24 apiece.

Jamie Thackray a player with a long and successful rugby league pedigree is making a habit of scoring at The Hive and he put his team ahead after the ball was spilled after a high kick from Thomas.  I wonder why that tactic isn’t used more often.  Thackray’s a strong player, he used that strength to force himself over under the sticks.  Naiqama would make no mistake under the posts – a 6 point gap was opened up.

Jason Walton added a second try on his debut – that’s a game he won’t forget!

I must make mention of 3 high shots by one of the Haven players – I don’t have a team sheet, but think it was Tyla Hepi (sorry if it wasn’t) – he clearly has an issue with his tackle style, twice penalties were given, of the 2nd of the 3 he was spoken to and warned, yet no penalty.  I wonder just what might make a referee show a yellow card?

Back to the scoring matters, Oscar Thomas scored another great try, in spite of nearly having his head taken off!  He back himself again and go the try he deserved.  Barthau converted the try giving a more comfortable gap for Broncos.

The game finished on London Broncos 40 Whitehaven RL 24 – a score that flattered the home team, Haven put up a good fight.  Lots more photos and a few words here.