Image Credit [Rugby-league.com]
Newly promoted London Broncos claim an early and surprising scalp with a win over troubled Wigan.
Reigning champions Wigan Warriors remain without a point in Super League 2019 having succumbed to an 18-16 defeat at the hands of newly promoted London Broncos.
Reminiscent of a champion side, the Warriors got onto the front foot early, with youngster Liam Paisley crashing over from close-range with ten minutes on the clock.
Second-Row Willie Isa added Wigan’s second on the half-hour mark, again going over from close range following a set play on London’s line.
The Broncos’ response to this was swift and skilful. A smart ruck play between London’s front-rowers resulted in Eddie Battye outmuscling the Wigan defenders to score. 27-year-old Battye, in his first season in Super League, is looking more and more like a top-flight prop by the week.
No sooner had Battye’s try been converted than London were in again, Matty Gee’s fantastic take from a Jordan Abdull grubber put the Broncos’ back rower under the posts, sending their fans into uproar.
London were gifted an extension to their lead after half-time by Wigan’s own doing. A seemingly-well executed back-line move came up short at the final hurdle when winger Tom Davies knocked on with the Broncos’ line at his mercy. The loose ball was quickly snapped up by London’s Kieran Dixon, who raced away untouched to score a 100-metre special and put his side ahead by a converted try.
The Broncos’ surprise lead clearly frustrated the ill-disciplined Warriors, who conceded a penalty for holding down just 20 metres from their own posts. Dixon gladly took the chance to extend his side’s lead to eight points and raise his own personal tally to ten.
Wigan’s eventual response finally came in the 58th minute. An orthodox play close to London’s line saw Tony Clubb barrel over against his former club, closing the gap to just four points. Zak Hardaker nailed the conversion, but his earlier miss from Paisley’s early try meant Wigan still trailed 18-16.
The resolute Broncos defence held out for the final quarter of the match, to give the newly promoted side a famous victory in the capital. The champions, wearing their crown rather shakily in 2019, remain without a point so far this season.
Although a successful appeal to their salary-cap-related points deduction will get Wigan’s points tally up and running this season, they remain languishing near the bottom of the table; below London, whose famous victory will surely give them hope that they can stay in the Super League beyond 2019.