Broncos turn screws on Salford

Salford City Reds 12 London Broncos 50
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The Independent Online

At the end of a week when the survival of professional rugby league in London was thrown into doubt, this was a salutary reminder that running a viable club in the heartlands can be a difficult task as well.

While the Broncos were watched by their smallest crowd of the season – just a handful of them from London – the Reds continued their dismal form under the caretaker coach, Steve McCormack. If his players want him to get the job permanently, they have a funny way of showing it.

Salford did at least put the Broncos under some pressure at the start of the second half, but it rebounded on them when Nigel Roy defused a Bobbie Goulding bomb and Barnett took a quick tap on the 20m line and raced the rest of the way for a spectacular second try.

Martin who also finished with nine goals, then took Moran's pass to exploit further holes in the Salford defence. A London substitute, Dan Potter, took his turn to embarrass a tattered defence before Barnett completed his hat-trick.

"What a load of rubbish,'' chanted the Salford fans, unimpressed by Francis Maloney's last-gasp consolation try, but at least they know they will have a team to jeer next season.

For the opposition, it was a test last night of whether the Broncos could concentrate on the job in hand rather than their uncertain future. There was nothing wrong with the way they started, Dennis Moran kicking across field on the last tackle for Sylvain Houles to outjump Danny Arnold and Tony Martin to send Jim Dymock in at the corner.

Salford's defence on the left flank was equally poor and London claimed their second try, Martin again providing the final pass for Houles.

Salford had a reprieve from further damage when Michael Gillett's try was disallowed for Moran's forward pass and they got on the scoreboard themselves after 25 minutes when, following a rare chance to exert pressure, Damian Driscoll took Malcolm Alker's pass to twist his way over the line from close range.

It was always the Broncos who had the more craft with the ball in their hands however, and it was no surprise when Ritchie Barnett jinked his way over, with Martin's three goals making it a 12-point lead at the interval.

Salford City Reds: Tassell; Pinkney, Maloney, Littler, Arnold; Blakeley, Goulding; Baynes, Alker, Driscoll, Coley, Nicol, Holroyd. Substitutes used: Hancock, Highton, Harmon, Wainwright.

London Broncos: Barnett; Houles, Martin, Fleming, Roy; Gillett, Moran; Cram, Hetherington, Retchless, Millard, Toschack, Dymock. Substitutes used: Air, Dooley, Golden, Potter.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

* Rugby league's international boundaries will be further expanded on Thursday, when the students of at least seven countries meet in the former Soviet state of Tartastan to contest the inaugural Europa Cup. The host nation will welcome England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Russia and an Australian New South Wales selection to the city of Kazan, overlooking the River Volga at the foot of the Ural mountains, for the nine-day event. Yugoslavia were set to be the eighth competing nation but tournament organisers have yet to confirm their participation.