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Haven on their way after nail-biting finish PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Monday, 16 March 2015

Whitehaven are up and running after a nail-biting 18-16 home win over London Broncos to move-off the foot of the Championship table.


But it was touch and go as the Cumbrians almost squandered an 18-4 lead, with winger Iliess Macani dropping the bell in the last few seconds when he had a walk in.


That would have been an injustice because Haven certainly deserved their first victory of the new season.


Afterwards coach James Coyle said: “I wouldn’t have been happy if they had denied us at the death but I always thought it was going to be a matter of time before we broke the ice.


“We stuck to our game plan and I felt before kick-off that this was the one for us to kick-start our season, It would have been a real kick in the teeth if we had let it slip right at the end.”


The mood was right from the start with Whitehaven ferocious in their early tackling to assert themselves and it had the desired effect.


They got off to a flier when Jordan Burns slid over in the corner for the opening try on five minutes which John Paul Brocklebank converted from the touchline.


The Cumbrians kept a tight grip on the two London half-backs Jarrod Sammut and Tom Gilmore so that they were never put under pressure from that source.


But London did get on the score-sheet themselves in the first-half when the eventual culprit Macani slid over in the corner. Crucially the conversion was missed and Whitehaven led 6-4 at the break.


Not for the first time Stephen Fox was named man of the match for his industry and power play at prop. It caused Coyle to remark afterward that although Fox was not regarded as a prop by the pundits, “he was making a very good impression of being on.”


Fox and former Egremont half-back Brocklebank were the home-grown stars for Haven with excellent contributions from the dual registration players from Widnes, particularly full-back Jack Owens and prop Phil Joseph.


The match was effectively won in a three minute spell early in the second-half. On 48 minutes James Newton drove over from close-rangeto score a typical hooker’s try and Brocklebank converted.


Then on 51 minutes it was Brocklebank who showed why he can step up admirably from the amateur ranks with a shimmy and go before dragging the last two London defenders over the line with him. He added the conversion.


Surely that would be it. But no the Broncos stirred themselves. A high kick from Gilmore bounced nicely for Sammut and he put Rhys Williams over with Wes Naiqama adding the conversion.


On 61 minutes Brad Dwyer sliced through to score the third try and again Naiqama converted.


Two points in it and still 20 minutes to play, yet remarkably there were no further scores. Battling Haven had to survive a ten minute spell down to 12 with Tyla Hepi in the sin-bin and then it was hearts in mouths time as Macani spilled the golden chance to win the game.

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