TORONTO WOLFPACK 32 – 12 LONDON BRONCOS
It was a successful start to the defence of the den for Toronto Wolfpack, who turned in a tough and at times clinical display to run out comfortable winners over fellow promotion contenders London Broncos. The victory was played out in front of a crowd of 7,384 as fans came out in force for the Home Opener.
Donning the Lamport Stadium field for the first time in 2018, the Wolfpack’s ability to start both halves at a greater tempo than their opponents was ultimately the difference between the two sides.
Toronto scored two quick tries to start both halves which really had London on the back foot and they backed that up with some sterling defence whilst under pressure to really limit the opportunities of the Broncos, who generally haven’t found scoring points difficult this season.
The Wolfpack forwards didn’t let the early injury to Ashton Sims phase them as they overpowered the Broncos in the middle third of the field, allowing the half backs to control the game well and create opportunities out wide that London struggled to cope with.
It was the Wolfpack’s twelfth straight win in the Betfred Championship and importantly maintains their five point advantage at the top of the league with only seven games remaining before the Super 8s Qualifiers.
Paul Rowley was happy with the result after the game but was adamant there was still plenty of improvement in his side despite the margin of victory in the home opener. He said:
“I thought we were a little bit scrappy at times but it’s nice to get this game out of the way and get the win over some really good opposition.
“We’re undefeated at the den and we want to keep it that way. We lost Ashton Sims early which was disappointing for him and both teams seemed a little bit tentative at times but it was two quality sides that contributed to a good contest.”
London boss Danny Ward was left frustrated by his sides display and highlighted their caginess with the ball as their biggest downfall. He said:
“It’s been a fantastic event for us in Canada but unfortunately we were disappointed with our performance.
“We didn’t execute as well as we’d have liked and we didn’t play much football and seemed a bit basic at times. We need to play with a bit more confidence and throw the ball around a bit more. Credit to Toronto they defended really well and we couldn’t break them down.”
The Wolfpack couldn’t have asked for a better start to proceedings with Cory Paterson opening the scoring within three minutes. Persistent pressure and repeat sets on the Broncos line eventually told with the big back rower taking a Josh McCrone pass to cross out wide.
It was all Toronto early as London struggled to get any possession in the game and the hosts almost doubled their tally on the ten minutes mark through Matty Russell but the right winger was deemed to have knocked on in his bid to ground the ball.
The home side did eventually grab their second try a few minutes later down the left edge. A nice interchange of passing and cut out ball from Gareth O’Brien set Liam Kay away to finish acrobatically in the corner for his 20th try of the season.
London got back into the game on the back of Wolfpack error. Ryan Brierley kicked the ball out on the full giving the Broncos field position and Jarrod Sammut created a break through the middle before supporting to score himself under the posts.
Former Bronco Andy Ackers won a penalty in kicking distance for Toronto and Brierley made no mistake in adding the two points to extend the Wolfpack lead to eight approaching the half hour mark.
Russell went oh so close to scoring just before half time after taking a brilliant Chase Stanley offload but was denied for a second time in the half as he was stopped and bundled into touch by Jay Pitts to leave the Wolfpack with a two score advantage at the break.
Toronto flew out of the blocks in a similar fashion to how they did in the first half and scored in the opening minutes. It was Paterson again who grabbed a double for the afternoon after supporting O’Brien’s break to score and put the Wolfpack in control.
The home side made it two tries in five minutes as captain McCrone joined the scorers. McCrone started the move with a short side raid down the left, which put Greg Worthington away before he found the stand-off in support to compound a fast start to the second period.
Ill-discipline was hampering the Broncos as they found themselves well on the back foot and Brierley slotted a further penalty goal to edge the Wolfpack out to a 20 point advantage approaching the final quarter.
Just as they had done in the first half, London stemmed the tide of Toronto dominance with a try of their own. Good hands put Matty Fleming away on the right and the centre kicked back in field for Elliott Kear to touch down and give the visitors hope.
Resilient and desperate goal line defence from the Wolfpack repelled the Broncos from getting another quick score, as the home side held out for three sets on their own line.
Brierley raced in under the posts after taking a Blake Wallace offload in the final minute of the game to grab Toronto’s fifth try of the afternoon and complete the scoring as the league leaders march on towards the play offs in good form.
Air Transat 1st Star: Jake Emmitt led from the front for the home side. The front rower played long minutes in a dominant performance in the middle of the field and really laid the platform for the Wolfpack to get on top physically against a big Broncos side.
Air Transat 2nd Star: Cory Paterson
Air Transat 3rd Star: Matty Russell
31 Gareth O’Brien
30 Matty Russell
33 Chase Stanley
3 Greg Worthington
5 Liam Kay
6 Josh McCrone (C)
7 Ryan Brierley
29 Jake Emmitt
14 Andy Ackers
10 Ashton Sims
11 Andrew Dixon
24 Cory Paterson
21 Olsi Krasniqi
Subs (all used)
8 Jack Buchanan
15 Adam Sidlow
17 Blake Wallace
28 Sam Hopkins
Tries: Paterson (3, 43), Kay (13), McCrone (48), Brierley (80)
Goals: Brierley 6/7
14 Alex Walker
1 Elliot Kear
4 Matty Fleming
6 Api Pewhairangi
2 Rhys Williams
7 Jarrod Sammut
8 Tom Spencer
9 James Cunningham
10 Mark Ioane
11 Dan Harrison
12 Jay Pitts (C)
13 Matt Davis
Subs (all used)
15 Eddie Battye
25 Matt Davies
16 Matt Gee
19 Sidiq Adebiyi
Tries: Sammut (19), Kear (61)
Goals: Sammut 2/2
Penalty count: 9-10
Referee: T Crashley
Half time: 14-6
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 12-0, 12-6, 14-6, 20-6, 24-6, 26-6, 26-12, 32-12