London beat Toronto in Million Pound Game for place in Super League

Photo: mirror.co.uk

 

Super League will have a presence in the capital next year for the first time in four years, after London defeated Toronto in arguably the most important, cosmopolitan rugby league game in history to secure promotion via the Million Pound Game.

The Broncos, relegated from the top flight in 2014, were roundly written off as promotion candidates at the beginning of this season. But under their highly regarded coach, Danny Ward, and with a strong contingent of London-produced players – including their outstanding full-back, Alex Walker – they will be back in Super League in 2019 after winning a gritty, tense affair in Canada to deny Toronto promotion.

Rugby league’s plans for expansion and to build outside the traditional northern heartlands are perhaps moving at a faster pace than ever before. It was perhaps fair to argue that no matter the outcome, the sport could not lose here.

Indeed, defeat for Toronto and their plans to revolutionise the game is by no means fatal. Upon the Wolfpack’s formation two years ago their owner, David Argyle, declared the route to Super League a five-year plan – but this was undoubtedly a missed opportunity in front of a record crowd at Lamport Stadium in which neither side scored a try.

London were travelling across the Atlantic with only one fit half-back following a litany of injuries throughout the Qualifiers, and that lack of creative flair was evident in their early play. Both sides laboured throughout the first half, but the biggest chance came inside the opening minute.

A towering Toronto kick was spilled by Alex Walker under pressure from Gareth O’Brien, allowing Josh McCrone to collect and score – but O’Brien was deemed to be offside in the buildup and that was the closest either side came to scoring a try in a tense and error-strewn first half.

London broke the deadlock shortly after, though, when Jarrod Sammut kicked them ahead with a penalty that would turn out to be the only score of the half. There were chances, mind – with most of them going to the Broncos, who failed to capitalise.

Even when Toronto’s hooker, Andy Ackers, was sent to the sin-bin seven minutes before the break, Toronto were still able to hold firm to go into the interval only two points behind. Proceedings remained just as tense after half-time – while Toronto levelled the scores via a Gareth O’Brien penalty, London restored their two-point lead a minute later when Sammutt added his second goal.

O’Brien was then presented with another chance to level the scores with 11 minutes remaining, but this time he missed – and it proved to be crucial. Toronto continued to throw everything at the Broncos in the final moments but their defence stood up superbly and, in the end, the London side were able to hold on to secure promotion to Super League.

Toronto Wolfpack O’Brien; Caton-Brown, Rawsthorne, Wheeler, Russell; McCrone, Wallace; Lussick, Beswick, Sims, Dixon, Whiting, Emmitt. Interchange Buchanan, Ackers, Sidlow, Higson.

Goals O’Brien. Sin-bin Ackers (32).

London Broncos Walker; Williams, Kear, Hellewell, Dixon; Pitts, Sammut; Evans, Pelissier, Ioane, Gee, Lovell, Hindmarsh. Interchange Spencer, Battye, Butler, Davies.

Goals Sammut 2.

Referee Chris Kendall. Attendance 9,266.

Source :

theguardian

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