London Broncos moved off the bottom of the Super League table with a gripping 26-24 win over relegation rivals Hull KR.
Rob Butler crashed over for a try with less than five minutes to play to secure a win that epitomised the Broncos increasingly remarkable season, and showed just why automatic promotion and relegation’s return was long overdue.
The game had swung either way before then, the Broncos having an 8-0 lead wiped out by a early second half blitz by the Robins that put them in command at 18-8.
But marshalled by Jordan Abdull, the half-back who will swap London for Hull KR next season, the Broncos registered a third successive win and their fourth in five games to add yet another foot note to a relegation battle that looks certain to go to the wire.
A competitive, if cagey, start saw the deadlock broken in the fifth minute, Kieran Dixon scoring a simple penalty against his former club after Alex Walker had been tackled in the air by Adam Quinlan.
It took 26 minutes for the first try, Dixon finding an overlap on the right and then put a short kick inside for Morgan Smith, with some question marks over offside, to touch down.
A second Dixon penalty made it 8-0, and while Walker would regularly win an aerial battle against Quinlan off Abdull’s high kicks throughout the first half, Hull KR were forced to take things in to their own hands to quell the barrage which controversially set them off for their first score.
Walker looked to be blocked off by Josh Drinkwater as he chased for the ball, enabling Hull KR to retrieve and take the ball up field through Ryan Shaw, and though he was eventually held up, they would go on to score off the resulting set, Weller Hauraki touching down off a short kick.
Trailing 8-6 at half-time, Hull KR turned the game on its head with a fine start to the second half.
An enthusiastic start by their forwards set the platform for Kane Linnett to romp away down the left hand side, he found Quinlan and debutant Harvey Livett on his inside, the latter returning the pass to Quinlan for their second try.
Abdull conceded a penalty for a tip tackle and Hull KR went forward, with Chris Atkin then sending another debutant Daniel Murray bursting through a gap, and he returned the ball to Atkin to go in under the posts.
If he could have been held responsible for laying the platform for a try conceded moments before, Abdull could certainly be credited for setting up London’s next score. A superb 40/20 from the half-back resulted in Smith dabbing through smartly while in a tackle for Walker to touch down.
Dixon converted that one, and then shortly after the hour mark, Abdull went over and Dixon kicked the Broncos to a 20-18 lead.
That left the game finely poised and London sought about finishing things off. Hull KR though they’d done enough to see off an attack as Butler took the ball in close to the line on the last, and despite the attention of three or four defenders, he somehow managed to get the ball on the line by the side of the posts.
A simple conversion gave London a two score lead, but even that wasn’t the game.
A penalty conceded by Butler helped Hull KR get back up the other end, and Drinkwater’s try with less than two minutes to go, set up a nailbiting finale, though the Robins just couldn’t get near enough to the Broncos line to threaten.
London: Walker, Dixon, Morgan, Kear, Williams, Abdull, Smith, Battye, Cunningham, Krasniqi, Pitts, Gee, Yates. Subs: Fozard, Mason, Butler, Ioane.
Hull KR: Quinlan, Hall, Crooks, Linnett, Shaw, Drinkwater, Atkin, Masoe, Lawler, Mulhern, Tomkins, Hauraki, Johnson. Subs: Livett, Murray, Lee, Keinhorst.