They are the team who will not roll over and die. No expert or pundit gave London Broncos a chance of winning a handful of games this season, let alone go into the final weekend of this remarkable season with their destiny in their own hands.
But one more win, at Wakefield who also have 20 points after their loss to Wigan last night, along with Huddersfield, who were heavily beaten by St Helens, and Hull KR, will ensure that no matter what happens elsewhere, the Broncos will survive against all the odds. No team has been relegated from Super League with that many points.
Pressure, it seems, does not get to this group of players – who were promoted last season despite being heavy outsiders, and simply do not know when they are beaten. That was evident here with two minutes remaining when the Broncos trailed by two points and needed something, anything, to stay in Super League. It was fitting that after one or two near misses, their captain, Jay Pitts, claimed the decisive try to set up the most fascinating final-day relegation dogfight in history.
“It certainly wasn’t good for my nerves,” said the London coach, Danny Ward. “It’s great for the neutral, but not too good for those involved. I’m not sure how many years in coaching I’ve got left if it’s like that.”
Leading 12-0 after half an hour thanks to tries from Matt Gee and Brock Lamb, the Broncos seemed set for a comfortable night but it is to their credit that after falling behind, they had the wherewithal to fight until the very end.
The fact the Broncos are still bottom due an inferior points difference perhaps makes them favorites, but their final-day opponents mean that a victory of any kind guarantees survival.
London now travels to Wakefield in a winner-stays-up showdown, Huddersfield host Catalans while Hull KR travel to fourth-placed Salford, who beat Leeds. The dates and times will be decided by TV commitments.
At one stage here, the Robins looked well on course for safety as tries from Will Dagger, Chris Atkin, and Danny McGuire put them 16-14 ahead.
Pitts’s late try brought a stunned silence to the 8,000-plus crowd or most of it at least. The small band of London supporters in one corner could certainly be heard – as could their players, who are now dreaming of completing the impossible job.
Hull KR Hall; Dagger, Crooks, Keinhorst, Shaw; Drinkwater, McGuire; Mulhern, Parcell, Murray, Tomkins, Hauraki, Hadley. Interchange Garbutt, Trout, Masoe, Atkin.
Tries Dagger, Atkin, McGuire. Goals Shaw 2. London Broncos Walker; Williams, Kear, Morgan, Dixon; Abdull, Lamb; Battye, Cunningham, Butler, Pitts, Gee, Yates. Interchange Fozard, Mason, Hindmarsh, Armitage. Tries Gee, Lamb, Pitts. Goals Dixon 4. Referee J Child.