Dewsbury Rams fall short in play-off semi-final

Dewsbury Rams fall short in play-off semi-final

London Broncos turned in one of their best performances of the year to seal a place in the Championship Shield Final.

Having won the previous four rounds between the two sides in 2015, Dewsbury came into the game as favourites, but it was the Broncos who handed themselves the chance of a first trophy since 1983.

After a tense start, Anthony Thackeray got over to finally break the deadlock 13 minutes in.

However, the Broncos soon hit back: former Rams loanee Ben Hellewell making it 6-6.

A superb effort by Dale Morton followed on the half hour before Etu Uaisele went in, but two quickfire tries from the Broncos, through Joe Keyes and Iliess Macani, turned the game on its head shortly before the break and London went from strength to strength thereafter.

After a penalty goal by Shane Grady, the Broncos clicked into gear, Rhys Williams’ score preceding a period of remarkable defence from the visitors before Daniel Harrison notched a late brace to put the result beyond doubt.

Broncos player-coach Andrew Henderson said, “I’m really pleased for this group of players.

“We’ve faced a fair bit of adversity this year as a club. We’ve been forced to use a lot of players and it’s a young squad – it’s essentially been an under 23s team over the last three months and there have been times when it's been tough.

“I don’t think there were many people within rugby league circles who thought we could win today,” he added. “But a lot of credit must go to my players.

“They turned up with an attitude and a purpose about what they did, we executed our plays well and thoroughly deserved our win in the end.”

Meanwhile, his Rams counterpart Glenn Morrison cut a dejected figure on a heartbreaking afternoon for the West Yorkshire side.

“I’m disappointed for the boys,” he said,

“They’ve worked hard all year but some people didn’t have their best game today which is a shame and we didn’t achieve our goal for the season.

“There were too many missed tackles in the second half and the bounce of the ball didn’t go our way,” Morrison continued.

“We pride ourselves on

our defence so it’s disappointing.

“Credit to London, they ran harder than we did and tackled harder than we did. There’s no excuses today, we were just outplayed.”

In a nervy start from both sides, London controlled the game in the early stages as the Rams toiled to escape their own half, but, firmly against the run of play, it was the hosts who went ahead as Morton mopped up a looping pass before racing 90 metres downfield and finding Thackeray who went over on his inside.

Tom Hemingway added the extras from out wide, but London struck back almost instantly: Hellewell following up a neat break by Williams on the left flank to coast in and level the scores.

A triple substitution refreshed the home side as London looked to go ahead and Dewsbury’s Morton produced a stunning piece of wing play, unleashing a Tommy Makinson-esque leap for the corner to bring up a 10-6 lead.

And his centre partner Uaisele got in on the act within minutes, charging over on the back of a searing team break started by Thackeray.

But London refused to lie down and hauled their way back into the game shortly after as Keyes impressively scrambled over from 20 metres out, Barthau converting, before Macani claimed a Keyes kick unopposed out wide to dot down, leaving the scores level at the break.

A ferocious start to the second period followed as both sides desperately looked to wrestle back control of the match, the Rams producing a notable series of bruising tackles to hold the Broncos at bay, and their hard work was rewarded on 52 minutes as Grady hammered over a penalty goal from close to half way.

But that score only served to inspire the visitors as Williams danced his way to the line from 40 metres out following an error in the ruck from the Rams.

Barthau added the touchline conversion for a slender four-point lead which was far from safe as the Rams fought to keep their season

alive.

Another period of intense pressure followed but London, backed by their vocal travelling support, held firm as Dewsbury threw all they could at the Broncos line.  Tom Hemingway came close to a 40-20 as the final ten minutes approached but Alex Walker cleared up at the last second.

It proved to be a crucial contribution as Harrison jinked his way over on the next set to leave the home side with a ten-point mountain to climb in the dying minutes.

Despite their best efforts, it was an ascent too far for Glenn Morrison’s men as Harrison notched his second late on to help secure a place in Sunday’s Championship Shield showdown with Featherstone.

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