Rugby League: Brisbane prove they are the real Broncos

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The Independent Online
London 16 Brisbane 34

There are Broncos and then there are the Broncos - and the London offspring's courage and determination were not quite enough to overcome the Brisbane originals at The Stoop last night.

London, fresh from last weekend's marvellous victory over the Canberra Raiders, went into this match with a real belief that they could upstage their parent club, but they could never get into the position to do so.

Brisbane, and Anthony Mundine and Wendell Sailor in particular, were just too incisive an outfit to go the same way as their great Australian rivals. Sailor and Mundine were all class and penetration, scoring two tries apiece and each helping to set one up. While London had heroic workers they had no one to match the firepower of that pair.

The game, however, never degenerated into Mundine versus the mundane. Despite being on the wrong end of some dubious refereeing decisions, London showed great character to stay in touch.

Brisbane struck on 12 minutes, Mundine sending in Kevin Walters. John Driscoll's break released Mundine for their second and the Australians could have had a couple of other tries before London added to Greg Barwick's penalty.

The rarely-used kicking skills of Peter Gill, a titan for London all night, produced the home side's first try. Scott Roskell leapt to knock the ball back and Nick Mardon went over.

But Sailor has an unfortunate knack of scoring tries just when you think that he has finished his work for the half. Andrew Hamilton's dropped ball enabled him to cruise 60 yards for a trademark effort.

Walters' pass gave Mundine his second after the break, but Gill was one player who was refusing to concede that the match was drifting away. He sold the normally parsimonious Brisbane defence the sort of dummy they usually refuse to buy and went over the try-line.

This was London's opportunity to get back into the match, but Beazley was penalised for a double movement as he forced his way over the line for what would have been a potentially crucial try, and the strangely lethargic Martin Offiah declined an invitation to take on the defence on the outside.

That was the window of opportunity slammed shut. Brad Thorn's break and Steve Renouf's cunning kick set up Darren Smith, before Roskell responded for London.

Sailor's pass to Smith for his second looked clearly forward, but the horse had already bolted. Likewise, the sending off of Thorn - who had sailed close to the wind with some late, high challenges - for a high tackle on Tony Martin came too late to affect the balance of power.

Sailor's second long-distance voyage - 80 yards this time - emphasised Brisbane's superior finishing ability, but the scoreline did London less than justice.

London: Mardon; Roskell, Martin, Barwick, Offiah; Tollett, Beazley; Mestrov, Matterson, Howard, Bawden, Hamilton, Gill. Substitutes used: Krause, White, Spencer, Salter.

Brisbane: Lockyer; Devere, Renouf, Smith, Sailor; Mundine, Walters; Gee, Driscoll, Webcke, Chorn, Tallis, Ryan. Substitutes used: Carroll, B Walker, Lee, S Walker.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

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