Halifax Panthers couldn’t make it a hattrick of wins in London in the last 4 weeks as they were dealt some Capital punishment by the Broncos, falling to a 26-12 defeat in a physical and expensive game, with James Woodburn-Hall and Jake Maizen both failing Head Injury Assessments to rule them out of not just the second half of this game, but the whole of next week’s crunch game against Widnes Vikings at the Shay.
This game couldn’t have started any better for Fax as in the first set of the game, the ball was shifted wide to Woodburn-Hall who dummied his way through the London defence to break away up field, before timing his pass to perfection to release Maizen for a try in the opening minute of the game, which Louis Jouffret duly converted.
Fax had the better of the first 10 minutes but the Broncos, still hurting from the 1895 Cup semi final defeat a few weeks earlier, galloped their way back with the impressive Lewis Bienek powering his way over the line from close range. Cory Norman converted and was successful from the tee a few minutes later as London made the numerical advantage from a green card issued to Lachlan Walmsley count. The ball was worked down the flank he would usually be covering through some lacklustre Panthers defence, eventually finding its way to ex Fax triallist Alex Walker to score under the posts.
Norman was in the thick of the action soon after as he inexplicably shoulder charged Jouffret off the ball as the Frenchman was hurrying to take a 20m tap after the Broncos put the ball dead. Liam Rush showed the yellow card and Fax had a golden chance to strike back against 12 men. It never came though as it was the home side through Walker again, finishing off another classy Broncos move. Oli Leyland in the absence of Norman converted for an 18-6 lead.
In quick succession, Fax then lost their halfback and strike centre as Woodburn-Hall then Maizen left the field to take and ultimately fail their HIA’s, leaving the Panthers down to 15 players for the next 50 minutes in the increasingly warm Wimbledon sunshine.
The Panthers gave themselves a glimmer of hope as Lachlan Walmsley scored from a perfectly lofted Jouffret pass right on the half time hooter, nicely dummying his touchdown to greatly improve the angle of Jouffret’s soon to be successful conversion. 18-12 the half time score line meant the next score would be crucial.
Halifax started the half strongly forcing successive goal line drop outs but with their attack severely blunted with the loss of Woodburn-Hall and Maizen, the Panthers toiled but ultimately could not break down the resolute Broncos defence. The sight of Jacob Fairbank at halfback especially showed both the desperation and commitment to the cause but no matter how hard they tried, the passes wouldn’t stick and the home defence held out.
The Broncos on the other hand made hay while the Wimbledon sun shone, Walker turned from scorer to provider to nicely lay a try on a plate for Iliess Macani, who then scored another from a well worked scrum move to put the icing on the cake of a well deserved victory for the Broncos 26-12 as the Panthers dropped vital points in the race for the top six.
Walker, Grant, Bassett, Whare, Macani, O Leyland, Norman, Bienek, B Leyland, Butler, Lovell, Natoli, Parata
Subs: Stock, Williams, Albert, Davies
Tries: Bienek (11), Walker (16, 31), Macani (46,58)
Goals: Norman 2/4, Leyland 1/1
Sin Bin: Norman (21)
Pickersgill, Walmsley, Crooks, Maizen, Saltonstall, Jouffret, Woodburn-Hall, Murray, Moore, Calcott, Kavanagh, Gee, Fairbank
Subs: O’Brien, Lannon, Tangata, Sutcliffe
Tries: Maizen (1), Walmsley (36)
Goals: Jouffret 2/2