The Knights returned to winning ways in our Betfred Championship campaign but had to fight hard to secure a 24-26 victory over London Broncos.
After last weekend’s emphatic triumph over Newcastle Thunder, James Ford’s Knights team travelled in buoyant mood on what was our first visit to the Broncos’ new home at Plough Lane.
Wingers Joe Brown and Will Oakes returned to the fold after being rested last weekend and Kriss Brining made a landmark 150th career appearance, the vast majority coming for the Knights.
The travelling support were the first to celebrate at the Cherry Red Records Stadium when, after building pressure, Will Oakes opened the scoring. His seventh minute try came after play was brought towards our left edge with Jamie Ellis passing wide to captain Chris Clarkson who, in turn, threw an excellent pass to Oakes. Ellis converted from the touchline to make it 6-0 but the Knights couldn’t capitalise on further good field position.
London hit back shortly after the twenty minute mark. Awarded a penalty with centre Jacob Ogden guilty of a shoulder charge when stopping a certain try against his former club, the Broncos made the field position count when Jordan Williams crashed over from close range. Siti Moceidreke converted to level the scores.
Ford’s Knights hit the front once again when Ronan Michael scored his second try of the season in similar fashion to his first against Batley Bulldogs. Running a line against the grain, the impressive Will Jubb found the Irish international who powered his way to the line. Ellis converted once again and the Knights led shortly before the half hour mark – and an excellent try would further extend our lead at the break.
With the Broncos deep in Knights territory, Moceidreke’s grubber was fielded by Clarkson and the back-rower made it to halfway before the kicker caught him. A well-judged offload found Liam Harris in support who, maintaining composure, slalomed his way into space to score his second try in as many games since. Ellis converted and the Knights led 6-18 at the interval after Oakes fielded a last-play kick from the hosts.
The Knights registered the first points of the second period in the 47th minute. A dummy-half scamper from Jubb found the Knights ten metres from the Broncos’ line. Harris darted out of the ruck and found Clarkson at pace who, after providing for Harris in the first half, saw the favour returned to extend our lead. Ellis’ conversion attempt missed narrowly to the right.
Both teams traded sets over the next ten minutes but, as the hosts continued to grow into the game, Dean Parata – named at loose-forward – scored his first of two tries. After a break up the middle from loanee debutant Amir Bourouh, Parata received a pass and showcased his pace and elusive running, rounding Matty Marsh to hit back for the hosts. Moceidreke converted and narrow the Knights’ lead to 12-22.
The next score was always going to be crucial, and it was the Knights who registered it thanks to a sublime piece of play.
Deep in London territory and the recipients of a penalty ten out, the field position was there for the Knights to capitalise and, through Harris and Marsh, Ford’s men did. Working the ball from the middle, an excellent delayed pass from Marsh saw the full-back feed centre James Glover – running an excellent line – for his second try of the season on the 66th minute. Ellis’ conversion attempt hit the post but the Knights led 12-26 with just over ten minutes left.
The game, however, was not up and London dominated the remainder of the encounter and pushed the Knights very close, indeed.
First, Parata scored his second of the game after a Knights knock on in our ten saw the Broncos handed a scrum. Pushing up alongside hooker Calum Gahan, Parata powered over from close range under the sticks. Moceidreke converted with eight minutes left and with the hosts in the ascendency.
With five minutes left, a gilt-edged opportunity to set up a grandstand finish was blown by Iliess Macani. Moceidreke and fellow half-back Oli Leyland linked up, the latter firing a cut-out pass to winger Macani who, in space outside Joe Brown with the try-line begging, knocked on.
The hosts would go over in the dying embers of the match, Paul Ulberg finding space on the right but, despite Moceidreke’s successful conversion, time was not on London’s side and, when guilty of a forward pass looking to force an opportunity with seconds remaining, the game was up for the Broncos and Ford’s men had secured their third win of the Championship season.
KNIGHTS: Matty Marsh, Joe Brown, James Glover, Jacob Ogden, Will Oakes, Liam Harris, Jamie Ellis, Jack Teanby, Will Jubb, Ronan Michael, Danny Kirmond, Chris Clarkson, Jordan Thompson. INTERCHANGES: Kriss Brining, Ronan Dixon, Marcus Stock, Toby Warren
BRONCOS: Alex Walker, Paul Ulberg, Ronnie Palumbo, Paulos Latu, Iliess Macani, Oli Leyland, Siti Moceidreke, Brad Foster, Calum Gahan, Robert Tuilatu, Will Lovell, Rhys Curran, Dean Parata. INTERCHANGES: Amir Bourouh, Jordan Williams, Lewis Bienek, Will Blakemore
Geoff Pryce Man of the Match, in partnership with Isaac Poad Brewing: Will Oakes – John Stabler Textiles.