The last time London and Featherstone met it was Rovers who were dominant. At the Summer Bash, Broncos got it right. Everything about London exuded class with William Barthau and Alex Walker amongst the top performers.
Overall Featherstone were disappointing, particularly in the first half when they rarely threatened and although their second half brought more from their attack Broncos were dominant.
During the first five minutes London had all the position and scored after six minutes when Barthau slid an inviting grubber kick behind the line and Jarrod Sammut pounced. Kieran Dixon has been in good form with the boot of late and tagged on the conversion to make it 6-0.
A mistake from Broncos skipper Daniel Harrison invited Featherstone onto the London line but Broncos defended well and struck back with a try at the other end from Walker following the most delicate of banana kicks from Barthau. Dixon added his second goal and the in-form Broncos moved 12-0 clear.
Fifteen minutes in Featherstone made their second foray to the Broncos twenty but London again held firm and soon pushed into good ball. Sadly for them a big tackle on Jay Pitts two metres out dislodged the ball and it was Featherstone’s turn to get forward with their big pack.
London put paid to that with some expansive passing and even though Dixon was pushed in touch, the ball came off Rovers hands. It gave chance for the Broncos to launch a further raid nineteen minutes in but Mark Ioane knocked on over the line.
A penalty gave Rovers an opportunity to attack, but Walker collected a kick behind his own line and even a charge down by Frankie Mariano was covered.
Rovers were looking for a way into the game but despite the work of Anthony Thackeray the bounce would not go their way. At the other end Barthau turned the screw – another well placed kick trapping Ian Hardman behind his line.
James Cunningham was helped from the field following a high collision with Richard Moore. A penalty was given to London by referee Gareth Hewer and Dixon converted from twenty metres to increase the lead to 14-0 in the 27th minute.
Featherstone finally looked threatening a couple of minutes later when John Davies went agonisingly close to opening their account but again there was no panic in the London ranks and Sammuts kick made it a sixty metre set. Rovers went downfield themselves, forcing an error from Dixon but Andy Ackers responded with a crunching tackle.
Darrell Griffin was held up over the goal-line after 36 minutes and Hardman was caught before Cory Aston’s well placed kick was knocked on by Scott Turner, again allowing London to come away from their end.
The Broncos carried their efficient play until the end of the half to take a 14-0 lead at the break.
Early in the second half, a Sammut kick created an opportunity but Dixon couldn’t bat the ball backwards.
Rovers themselves offered some hope when good play on the right brought about a repeat set and Featherstone finally got a try when Matty Wildie fed John Davies from close range. Cory Aston goaled and the contest was blown wide open at 14-6.
The try brought renewed urgency to the contest and Davies smart kick on the last tackle ended a good set. A response came quickly from London with Andy Ackers scoring a try quickly confirmed by video referee Robert Hicks. Dixon missed the conversion but Broncos now led 18-6 ten minutes into the second half.
They made it a try double on the next set when a towering kick by Barthau was brilliantly taken and touched down by excellent fullback Walker. Dixon again missed the conversion and it was 22-6 to London.
When Walker was taken out in pursuit of a high kick from Sammut it gave the Broncos more possession and Barthau’s smart kicking produced a drop out to his side.
Tempers started to fray 17 minutes into the second half and both Ian Hardman (Featherstone) and Elliot Kear (Broncos) were sin-binned. It gave Broncos a relatively straight forward penalty in front of the posts and Kieran Dixon potted a fourth goal to make it 24-6.
With Lewis Bienek making an impression and the rest of the Broncos pack doing their job, it was giving the excellent Barthau time to control the game with his kicks.
A mistake by Rovers Luke Briscoe brought more possession London’s way and they scored a fifth try when former Featherstone centre Michael Channing finished slick approach play. It gave Dixon his most difficult kick of the evening and he nailed it from the touchline to take Broncos to an unassailable 30-6 advantage.
Rovers went short with the restart but Dixon secured the ball. But Rovers did respond with their second try – Scott Turner finishing athletically in the corner to take Featherstone into double figures with fifteen minutes remaining.
London kicked the ball dead from the restart and Rovers attacked again. John Davies thought he had claimed a second try – confirmed by video and all of a sudden Featherstone were offered a glimmer of hope with fourteen minutes remaining. Aston converted to close Broncos advantage to fourteen points.
Featherstone went into full attack mode but Mariano lost possession. A high tackle from Mariano compounded the error, allowing London to turn the screw and although no points came from the foray Rovers were forced to come away from their own ten, also losing Scott Turner to injury in the process.
Rovers comeback was finally quelled in tge 74th minute when a mistake from Aston was cleaned up by the outstanding Barthau who ran seventy metres to confirm victory. Dixan added his sixth goal to move the score to 36-16.
Dixon rounded scoring off, following up another dangerous kick with three minutes left and supporting Channing. Once again, he added the conversion and a 42-16 win was confirmed.
London Broncos: Alex Walker, Rhys Williams, Elliot Kear, Michael Channing, Kieran Dixon; Jarrod Sammut, William Barthau; Ben Evans, James Cunningham, Mark Ioane, Daniel Harrison, Jay Pitts, Mark Offerdahl. Subs: Andy Ackers, Matty Garside, Junior Roqica, Lewis Bienek.
Featherstone: Ian Hardman Luke Briscoe, Misi Taulapapa, Jason Walton, Scott Turner; Anthony Thackeray, Cory Aston; Richard Moore, Keal Carlile, Luke Cooper, Frankie Mariano, John Davies, James Lockwood. Subs: Mattie Wildie, Darrll Griffin, Brad Tagg, Jack Ormondroyd.
Referee: G. Hewer.
(Image permission: Richard Long)