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London Broncos Super League

Saints centre moves to London

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London Broncos have completed the signing of St Helens’ centre Ryan Morgan on a one-year loan deal.

The move, announced in today’s London Evening Standardsees the newly promoted Broncos bring more Super League experience to the capital after their return to the top flight and will no doubt see him installed as one of the club’s first choice centres. Morgan’s chances with St Helens were likely to become fewer in 2019 following their impressive signing of Fijian international Kevin Naiqama and, as a result, the Australian was made available for a move. Morgan made 21 appearances for the club last season, scoring 12 tries.

His switch to London has been rumoured for weeks and he may soon be joined by the ‘Red Vee’s’ big front rower Kyle Amor, another who seems surplus to requirements for Justin Holbrook’s 2019 plans.

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London Broncos Super League

Abdull keen to prove his worth with Broncos

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After London Broncos confirmed the signing of Hull FC’s Jordan Abdull on a one-year permanent deal, the 22-year-old admitted that he has a point to prove in Super League after joining the capital club.

Abdull handed in a transfer request in August, surprising many Hull FC fans, keen to secure more regular rugby league which was hard to come by with the Airlie Birds. Because the half-back – who also played at loose-forward – had a year remaining on his deal with Lee Radford’s team, the Broncos have paid an undisclosed fee to bring the youngster to London.

While he handed the transfer request in three months ago, the interest from the Broncos only surfaced in the last week and Abdull thanked both clubs for getting the deal completed in such hasty fashion.  “It’s a credit to both clubs for making it happen so quickly,” he told the media. “I do want to thank Hull for how they’ve handled the situation and how smoothly they’ve been able to get the deal done with London.”

Indeed, 2019 will mark the first campaign of Abdull’s career where he is playing his club rugby outside of the north. During his time with Hull FC – who he made over fifty appearances for – he experienced loan spells with Doncaster, Featherstone and cross-city rivals Hull KR, helping the latter win promotion back to Super League in 2016. After securing his move, one which is likely to provide him with a regular first-team jersey, he admitted that the pressure is now on him to show his class. “I do feel very fortunate and blessed, but I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason,” he explained, adding that “hopefully I can have a good year on the field and help the side in every way that I can.”

Abdull also revealed that he is excited at being a part of a team who plays such an expansive style of rugby league while teaming up with hooker James Cunningham and maverick pivot Jarrod Sammut was part of London’s lure. The Broncos’ head coach Danny Ward was also eager to see how Abdull both complements and adds to the capital club’s team. “We are very pleased to have Jordan on board at the Broncos,” Ward told the media. “He is an exciting, young British half-back who already has Super League experience with Hull FC. He’s a player I have liked since I coached the Academy against him a few years ago and am now really looking forward to working with him as we move into the 2019 season.”

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London Broncos Super League

Fozard joins Broncos

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London Broncos have confirmed the signing of pivot Matty Fozard from Sheffield Eagles on a two-year deal, the club have announced today.

Fozard, 23, is equally adept at playing hooker or in the halves and was viewed as one of the most talented players plying his trade outside of Super League and, after the Broncos secured promotion via the Million Pound Game, he will be turning out for the capital club in 2019.

Of the acquisition of the Welsh international, London head coach Danny Ward – voted the Betfred Championship Coach of the Year for the season just ended – said “we have kept a close eye on Matty throughout the season and he has performed consistently well.” The former Leeds Rhinos player added that “he is young, hungry and will benefit massively from being in a full-time environment.”

Fozard, who started his professional career with St Helens, was pleased after his move was confirmed. “I’m ecstatic to be given the opportunity to play for the London Broncos for the next two seasons,” he outlined.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have extended the contract of one of their star players, James Cunningham. Out of contract at the end of the 2018 season, the pivot was expected to move to a Super League club. However, the club’s surprise victory over Toronto in the Million Pound Game led to their promotion and, as a result, 24-year-old Cunningham has extended his stay with London.

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Report: London stun the Wolfpack to earn Super League return

Aside from the rather odd trophy awarded to the winners, there was plenty to love about the final Million Pound Game before the Super 8s system is ditched for 2019 and beyond.

Sunday’s, after all, was between the top two teams before the Super 8s kicked off and, as such, there wasn’t the element of jeopardy surrounding livelihoods being on the line in the same manner we have seen in the three previous finals when Super League clubs faced relegation. Instead, Toronto Wolfpack and London Broncos played out what was an exciting opportunity for both – promotion to the promised land of Super League. For the Canadians, it was a chance to earn their second successive promotion in as many years while, for the Broncos, it was the opportunity to return to the top flight after four years away while also stunning the entire sport. This, after all, is a London team who lost their highly rated head coach Andrew Henderson at the end of 2017 and saw key players depart. Danny Ward, promoted to the head coach role after sterling work with the club’s younger teams, had his work seemingly cut out but promptly managed to produce a season even he wouldn’t have dreamt of.

In the previous meeting between the two in the Super 8s, Toronto raced into a healthy lead in very quick time and it left too much for London to do to get back into the contest. It was imperative, then, for the Broncos to ensure their hosts weren’t able to do so – but they nearly did just that. Less than a minute was on the clock when a Blake Wallace kick towered into the Toronto sky and Alex Walker, the Broncos’ full-back, wasn’t able to gather – the only blot in an otherwise impressive performance – under pressure from opposite number Gareth O’Brien. The former Salford star, however, was one of many offside from Wallace’s kick which led to the try the Wolfpack went on to score being ruled out.

The game then saw both teams produce errors as the defences won out. The pair were clearly up for the game and London were keeping their much-feted opponents under wraps. In the midst of a frenetic start, the Broncos’ mercurial half-back Jarrod Sammut – one of their players with Super League experience – kicked an early penalty to give his team a 2-0 lead, one they would hold until half-time. That, however, doesn’t mean the game was short on attacking effort. Both teams had chances to score and, while the visitors were arguably more threatening and purposeful in general, Toronto had the better chances. Mason Caton-Brown, one of the Wolfpack’s late-season recruits, seemed certain to score but his footballing ability saw him come up short after kicking forward from his own half. Unable to continue dribbling to the line under pressure, he proceeded to knock on and relieve the pressure on London.

Late in the first half, Andy Ackers was sin-binned for a late, intentional hit on the impressive Eloi Pellisier, the Broncos’ French hooker. It was one example of indiscipline from the Wolfpack team throughout the match and, much like it did in their Challenge Cup match against Warrington earlier in the year, it didn’t endear neutrals to their cause and hindered their progress in this match. Shortly after Ackers’ dismissal, Kieran Dixon had a chance similar to Caton-Brown’s earlier in the piece. Kicking the ball forward on the deck, he was unable to get it far enough forward to take advantage with his pacy fellow winger slowing the Broncos’ progress. The visitors were unable to make their man advantage pay and the teams were split only by Sammut’s penalty at half-time.

Toronto’s attack was so often met by heroic defence from London, the aspect of their game which was no doubt key to their victory. Early in the second half, the Canadians’ hugely experienced Ashton Sims was held up by the Broncos but, after Sammutt kicked dead into touch, the Wolfpack levelled up the game courtesy of O’Brien’s boot. After London were adjudged to have stolen the ball in the tackle, the full-back landed his twenty-fourth goal since the start of The Qualifiers to tie the game up.

It didn’t remain that way for long, though.

Minutes later, Jack Buchanan connected high with opposite prop Mark Ioane. It looked like a yellow card would have been a fair sanction for the tackle but he escaped further punishment, barring a penalty. That, however, would prove vital as the Maltese Sammutt kicked, amidst boos from home fans, and gave the Broncos another two point lead. That is how it would remain – leaving this as a rare tryless game, all the more bemusing as these two teams were the highest scoring teams in the Betfred Championship. Walker, though, after an incredible performance produced what Sky Sports commentator Phil Clarke described as “the million pound tackle.” As Toronto half back Wallace advanced to the line, Walker somehow managed to get under the ball and remain under it to prevent the Australian from grounding the ball. It was superb and typified the Broncos’ performance – they simply would not let the Wolfpack have things their own way and wouldn’t give away anything at all.

Toronto, for all the fanfare which surrounds them – and they are certainly a good thing for the sport – seemed to be lacking something in attack and they didn’t seem to have a second plan to break down the London defence. They will certainly be in contention for honours in 2019 but, perhaps, with the change of structure, this may have been a better opportunity for them.

As the clock ticked down, huge London forward Tom Spencer produced a charge akin to a battering ram and promptly left Toronto’s Bob Beswick in trouble on the deck. The time taken to give the experienced hooker treatment must have seemed like an eternity to the Broncos as they aimed to close the game out but, when the game resumed, it was left to Dixon to run the clock down and kick the ball dead, prompting incredible celebrations from the capital club and their small army of travelling fans. Toronto’s players fell to the turf as if in shock at what had happened and the rugby league world was no doubt surprised to see the Wolfpack lose a game in which they were such big favourites.

They, however, will go again in the second tier in 2019 while London will now have the off-season to prepare for a top-flight return. After their performance on Sunday night, they may well find themselves with many wishing them well, possibly even becoming some fans’ second team.

Toronto Wolfpack: O’Brien, Caton-Brown, Rawsthorne, Wheeler, Russell, McCrone, Wallace, Lussick, Beswick, Sims, Dixon, Whiting, Emmitt

Replacements: Buchanan, Ackers, Sidlow, Higson

Sin bin: Ackers (32)

London Broncos: Walker, Williams, Kear, Hellewell, Dixon, Pitts, Sammut, Evans, Pelissier, Ioane, Gee, Lovell, Hindmarsh

Replacements: Spencer, Battye, Butler, Davies