London Broncos 0 Wigan Warriors 70 match report: Warriors shatter records in Broncos battering
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
leigh sports village stadium
Sunday 28 July 2013
It was not the sort of thing you expect to hear from a Wembley-bound chairman. "I've long since stopped enjoying it. I wish it was over, or I wish they would score," said Ian Lenagan, chairman of London before taking over at Wigan, an hour into this massacre.
Given his background, he knows that a Challenge Cup semi-final such as this one at Leigh is not good for the game or anyone in it – even Wigan.
The scars that it leaves will be visible in the record books for a long time: Wigan's was the highest winning margin in a semi, beating their own tally in 1992; Pat Richards's 30 points the most by an individual, eclipsing Frano Botica's 21 in that same match.
London Broncos' coach, Tony Rea, called yesterday's defeat the most disappointing day of his career. "It's beyond hurt," he said.
Any shreds of optimism the Broncos might have clung to in the light of Wigan's defeat at St Helens on Monday were effectively snatched away by the presence of Sam Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin and Harrison Hansen on the teamsheet after being rested for that match. There was also the certainty that any complacency would have been knocked out of the Warriors by that experience.
Wigan actually began rather poorly, frittering away a couple of half-chances and having a couple of kicks charged down, but the way Darrell Goulding sauntered over from dummy-half for their first try was ominous indeed. Richards landed the conversion, but surprisingly missed a penalty awarded for interfering as London struggled to slow down the play-the-ball.
Wigan were methodical rather than magnificent, but, after they forced a drop-out by driving Jamie Soward over the dead-ball line, Lee Mossop completed a slick handling move for their second try and the floodgates flew open.
London were exposed again when Sam Tomkins cut back against the grain to score another after 22 minutes. Wigan fans were already singing about "Wemberlee", but then they probably were when they arrived. Blake Green was next, as the more statistically-minded began to think nostalgically of the record 61-point margin by which Wigan beat Bradford in the semi-finals 21 years ago, the day that Martin Offiah scored five tries.
Richards got a walk-in on the left wing, to go with his final tally of 10 goals, as this match began to look every bit as one-sided. Then O'Loughlin's cross-field run set up Josh Charnley on the opposite flank. It was all too easy, as a scoring rate of five tries in 14 minutes demonstrated with unforgiving clarity. It could have been worse; it could have been at Wembley, with the eyes of the world seeing how unbalanced a contest between two Super League clubs can be.
The second half brought tries from Scott Taylor, Matty Smith and Richards with his record-breaker, before Liam Farrell and Ian Thornley chimed in, followed by Charnley's second.
Wigan will now play the winners of tonight's semi-final between Hull and Warrington in four weeks' time. Either one of them, on the worst of bad days, will present a much sterner challenge than the Broncos did at Leigh.
London Broncos Dorn; Colbon, Lloyd, Sarginson, Robinson; O'Callaghan, Soward; Cook, Lee, Bryant, Rodney, Kaufusi, Fairbank. Substitutes used Krasniqi, Wheeldon, Fisher, McMeekin.
Wigan Warriors S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards; Blake, Smith; Mossop, McIlorum, Dudson, Hansen, Farrell, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used Tuson, Flower, Taylor, L Tomkins.
Referee P Bentham (Warrington).
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