London Broncos stun promotion favourites Featherstone Rovers to set up all-expansion play-off final

Ben Olawumi
London Broncos, Toulouse Olympique

London Broncos will meet Toulouse Olympique in the 2023 Championship play-off final - Alamy

London Broncos have tonight stunned Championship promotion favourites Featherstone Rovers in their own backyard to set up an all-expansion play-off final next weekend against Toulouse Olympique for a place in Super League in 2024.

League Leaders’ Shield winners Featherstone ended the regular season 18 points above 5th-placed Broncos, but for the second year running were left shellshocked at Post Office Road at the last-four stage. Having been beaten in the semi-finals last year by Batley Bulldogs, they tonight went down 36-26 to a rampant-looking London.

Racing into a 12-0 lead, the men from the capital were pegged back level and looked in danger of being overrun by their much-favoured hosts. Alex Walker crossed before the break to restore their advantage though, and they went over for three unanswered tries in the first 20 minutes of the second half to take the scoreline out to 36-12.

Chris Hankinson, Luke Briscoe and powerhouse Joey Leilua replied for Featherstone, who continually put the pressure on in the latter stages, but left it too late and are now left – yet again – to rue a horrendous home showing.

Mike Eccles’ men from the capital meanwhile now move on to a trip to the South of France and a straight shoot-out between two former Super League outfits for a return to the top tier.

London Broncos stun Featherstone Rovers; All-expansion play-off final set up

Toulouse – who finished 2nd in the regular season – watched on from afar tonight with their final spot already booked courtesy of last night’s 38-20 victory over Bradford Bulls.

Olympique – who have recently tied down Greg Richards and Cook Islands ace Reubenn Rennie for 2024 – will have home advantage in the play-off final, and could be set for an immediate return to Super League having been relegated in 2022.

If not, it will be London – who were relegated in 2019 – so Super League in 2024 is guaranteed another ‘expansion’ club.

Back in April, the Broncos were hammered 54-0 by Toulouse over in France, but the pair have met twice since and it has been London who have come out on top.

At the Summer Bash in May, they triumphed 14-10. Most recently, the capital outfit won 22-6 in July in a game played at the home of football club Ebbsfleet United.

Confirmation is still awaited as to when next weekend’s play-off final will take place. It will be broadcast on ViaPlay Sport.

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