Broncos broken by Schuster

London Broncos 18 Halifax 22
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The Independent Online
THERE was very little between Halifax and the London Broncos yesterday. So little, in fact, that it was with only four minutes to go that Halifax broke the deadlock. The scores had been tied for 12 minutes when Halifax created an overlap, John Schuster went over in the corner and the match was won. Halifax were through to the Regal Trophy quarter-finals and London Broncos were crushed with disappointment.

They felt the dismay all the more, for this was their match for the taking. They had beaten Halifax 10 days previously and cruised into such a quick lead yesterday that they looked set for a double. But Halifax gradually wore away at the deficit and the match was graced with a thrilling climax, the score 18-18 and remaining so until Schuster finally settled the contest.

With the BBC cameras trained on them for the first time, Broncos had declared that this was the most important game in their nomadic history. The manner in which they started the match gave credence to their words, as they ran in three tries without reply within 20 minutes. Each score was a product of their entertaining game plan. The ball was flung up and down in front of the Halifax try-line until finally a gap opened up. Tony Rea was the first through after just two minutes, collecting the scoring pass from Chris McKenna, 10 minutes later Tony Mestrov was through in similar fashion, and Evan Cochrane then put the home side 14-0 up in finishing off a fine handling move on the left.

It is from such a position that the Broncos have developed a losing habit of late. Warrington and St Helens have both come back from similar deficits at the Stoop, and Halifax now set about the same task. First a Schuster goal and then a try on the right wing from John Bentley after a run two- thirds the length of the field by Paul Roley.

The best of the game then followed to reduce the deficit to just two points on the point of half-time. Bentley was the try-scorer, passing out to Mike Jackson on the right, receiving an excellent return pass back inside and then beating Paul Hauff, the opposing full-back, on the outside to touch down in the corner.

The comeback's momentum continued, and 12 minutes into the second half Freddy Tuilagi scored in the corner, Schuster kicked another goal and Halifax had nosed ahead. The lead was short-lived as Mestrov scored his second for the Broncos. The Londoners appeared to have the edge in the tantalising final minutes. Twice their stand-off, Ben Walker, sprinted into open space but, with four minutes to run, Schuster stole the glory.

London Broncos: P Hauff; I Butt, C McKenna, C Green, E Cochrane (D Pitt 25); B Walker, L Dynevor, T Mestrov, T Rea, D Shaw, R Bawden (K Langer 52), P Gill, T Matterson.

Halifax: M Umaga; M Preston, J Schuster, A Amone, F Tuilagi, C Dean, W Parker, K Harrison, P Roley, J Fieldhouse (W Jackson 34), P Moriarty, M Jackson, C Gillespie.

Referee: C Morriss (Huddersfield).