Sykes leads Broncos' dance

London 34 - Wigan 20
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The Independent Online

The Broncos returned to their home ground for the first time since their brush with extinction and celebrated their survival with some of the most exhilarating passing play any set of fans could wish to see.

London play high risk rugby which can blow up in their faces or work superbly. Last night, it was superb often enough to outclass Wigan by a wider margin than the final score indicates.

London had the better of the early skirmishes, but Wigan took the lead thanks to a typical Kris Radlinski try set up by Terry Newton's break and Kevin Brown's alert support play to provide the link.

If that was a try of sheer incisive simplicity, then London were playing a more ambitious, complicated brand of rugby, but not initially to particularly good effect. The closest their hyperactive ball movement brought them to a try was when Thomas Leuluai was stopped on the line, and their substitute, Mark Tookey, also just failed to get over with his first touch of the ball.

Tookey had his moment on 22 minutes, however, after Solomon Haumono's rampaging run brought the Broncos upfield. Having established their attacking position, Luke Dorn threaded through a precise kick and Tookey dropped on the ball for the equalising try.

London were ahead on the half-hour, choosing to run a penalty rather than kick for an easy goal when Danny Tickle went high on Lee Hopkins. The decision was vindicated when the formidable Haumono stretched out an arm and just reached the whitewash.

Wigan would have been further behind if Brett Dallas had not knocked down Jon Wells' pass after another thundering run from Haumono.

Nick Bradley-Qalilawa had another try disallowed for a knock-on and Zeb Luisi squandered the best chance of the lot with an unnecessary pass as he was almost over the line. London finally added a couple of extra points before half-time when Danny Sculthorpe was penalised for holding down, but it was inadequate reward for their dominance. Wigan got two points back to Tickle's penalty but some brilliant work from Paul Sykes put the Broncos on the road to victory.

It was his pass that sent Dorn galloping away and, even though Radlinkski's tackle stopped him, Sykes was there to pick up the momentum and get over the try line. His penalty, after Martin Aspinwall had tripped Wells, took the Broncos out of Wigan's reach and further tries from Hopkins and Sykes himself - this one an instinctive solo - underlined their superiority.

When it was already far too late, Stephen Wild and David Vaealiki, got consolation efforts for Wigan, but on this showing it is the Broncos who are far more likely to tie down a play-off position when the season really gets into its stride.

London: Luisi; Wells, Smith, Sykes, Bradley-Qalilawa; Dorn, Leuluai; Stephenson, Budworth, Trindall, Hopkins, Haumono, Lolohea. Substitutes: McLinden, Mbu, Tookey, Armour.

Wigan: Radlinski; Aspinwall, Wild, Vaealiki, Dallas; Brown, Moran; Seuseu, Newton, Guisset, Tickle, Beswick, O'Loughlin.

Substitutes: Sculthorpe, Godwin, Allen, Tomkins.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens)