|Betfred Super League|
|Wakefield Trinity (8) 19|
|Tries: Hampshire 2, Lyne Goals: Brough 3 Drop-goal: Brough|
|London Broncos (0) 10|
|Tries: Walker, Lamb Goals: Dixon|
London Broncos suffered relegation from Super League for the second time in five years as they were beaten by rivals Wakefield Trinity at Belle Vue.
Danny Brough’s early penalty followed by two converted tries from Ryan Hampshire either side of the break gave Trinity a 14-0 lead.
Reece Lyne then added another try, followed by Brough’s drop-goal.
Alex Walker pulled a try back late on before Brock Lamb scored with the final play but Broncos still go down.
With all four relegation-threatened teams on 20 points at the start of the evening, it was always likely to be a dramatic night, and Broncos were full of hope having twice beaten Wakefield this season.
They marked their return to Super League back in February with a 42-24 victory over Wakefield in Ealing, then won again with a four-try Jordan Abdull-inspired 42-34 home victory in May.
But, for this huge game, Wakefield boss Chris Chester imposed a social media ban to keep his player’ minds relaxed and firmly on the job.
And, with former Warrington and England centre Ryan Atkins making his second Wakefield debut, 13 years on from his first, the hosts kept their heads and simply proved too solid.
Following Brough’s early penalty, Broncos wasted two good chances to get on the scoreboard.
Kieran Dixon pulled his attempt wide with a very kickable penalty, before the winger then failed to grab hold of an awkward lofted pass in the right corner – and the chance was gone.
Trinity winger Ben Jones-Bishop, up against his old club, then knocked on trying to get on the end of Brough’s kick to the right corner.
But the first try of the night came for Hampshire after 24 minutes, Brough kicking the goal for an 8-0 half-time lead.
Then four minutes into the second half Hampshire got in again at the left corner, Brough again added the extras – and it was 14-0.
On 53 minutes, Trinity added a try out wide on the right from Lyne and, although Brough this time missed the kick, the hosts still went into the final quarter with an an 18-point cushion.
Brough’s one-pointer with 13 minutes left made it safe, but Broncos typically had the final say.
Walker scored on the right and, although Dixon missed the kick, he then finally got it right when he improved Lamb’s last-gasp try.
Broncos made a lot of friends
Promoted a year ago, London Broncos were most people’s favourites to go straight back down after upsetting much-fancied Toronto in the Million Pound Game. But they will be missed.
Despite their meagre support, averaging 1,500 to 2,000 home fans at their Ealing home, they have won many admirers.
Their 10 wins include those two at home against relegation rivals Wakefield, as well as two over leaders St Helens.
But Danny Ward’s ‘Band of Brothers’ have repeatedly shown a never-say die attitude.
They gave themselves real hope by winning at both Catalans and last week at Hull KR.
And the fact that they still had the character to score twice in the final 10 minutes said much about that battling spirit.
Wakefield need to be more consistent
Following their Million Pound Game near miss in 2015, when they beat Yorkshire neighbours Bradford to stay up, Wakefield have over the last three years enjoyed the happiest times of their 21-stay in Super League.
Prior to this season, they had not been out of the top eight in three successive campaigns – capped by finishing fifth two seasons running.
But this year Chris Chester’s side have struggled for consistency.
Not even the pre-season return of kicking machine Danny Brough to Belle Vue from Huddersfield has helped.
In fact, they are an average of four points down per game on last season. And they went into this crunch finale with just two wins in 14 matches.
But, when it became to the biggest stage of all,. they got their lines right – and the signing of Ryan Atkins may yet prove a masterstroke.
‘We’ve got to regroup’ – reaction
London Broncos head coach Danny Ward told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra:
“I’m gutted. It’s tough to take, but we’ve got to regroup, rebuild and go again.
“We’ll reflect in a few days. It’s been good and we’ve had a lot of positives. We’ll learn from it and know where we need to get better.
“Wakefield dominated the field position, ran harder than us, they defended well. We didn’t play badly, but Wakefield are a good side and shouldn’t be down here battling for survival. They just played at the right end of the field.”
Wakefield head coach Chris Chester told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra:
“That was a special win. We knew what was at stake and we were fantastic from minute one to minute 80.
“Plans are already in place for next season. We’ll enjoy tonight – it’s just made me more determined to make sure we’re not in this position again next year.”
Wakefield: Escare; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Atkins, Hampshire; Miller, Brough; Kopczak, Randell, Tangata, Kirmond, Tanginoa, Crowther.
Interchanges: Wood, Green, King, Arundel.
London Broncos: Walker; Dixon, Morgan, Kear, Williams; Abdull, Lamb; Battye, Cunningham, Butler, Gee, Pitts, Yates.
Interchanges: Fozard, Mason, Hindmarsh, Lovell.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL).