Hull KR 35 London Broncos 30: Robins left relieved as promotion push stays on course

Hull KR's players celebrate the victory over London Broncos (Picture: Tony Foster)
Hull KR's players celebrate the victory over London Broncos (Picture: Tony Foster)
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AS their fans already know only too well, Hull KR do not do things easily.

They picked up their third win from three Qualifiers games yesterday to keep well on course for promotion out of the Championship.

Indeed, some nervous Rovers fans must have been recollecting last year’s nightmare Million Pound Game when, shortly before Kear’s try, James Greenwood had the ball stolen off him near his own line and Rhys Williams almost scored in the corner.

Dave Craven

However, how Tim Sheens’s side made hard work of it all.

They were 27-8 up against London Broncos in the 53rd minute, in complete control, only to switch off worryingly and be left clinging on at the death.

Fortunately, for them, Jarrod Sammut opted to attempt a conversion of Elliot Kear’s try which was scored with 68 seconds remaining.

By the time the Australian had painstakingly lined up the kick – and duly missed – he was still making his way back to his own half as the final hooter sounded.

It was a bizarre decision and some of Sammut’s team-mates were clearly annoyed; if he had simply turned down the chance, or at least hurried up, they would have had time to still potentially steal victory.

Indeed, some nervous Rovers fans must have been recollecting last year’s nightmare Million Pound Game when, shortly before Kear’s try, James Greenwood had the ball stolen off him near his own line and Rhys Williams almost scored in the corner.

Mark Ioane had already got them worried by crashing over in the 75th minute for Sammut to make it 35-26 and alarm bells were ringing.

All the late drama had certainly taken fans’ minds off Albert Kelly, Rovers’ former Australian half-back who made a controversial move to city rivals Hull FC last winter but was spotted here sat near the London supporters.

At the start of Wembley week for FC, his bold presence clearly irritated the home supporters who soon started up a chant of “Chuck him out”.

Typically, though, given his famously laid-back demeanour, the 26-year-old did not look bothered in the slightest.

In fact, Kelly happily posed for pictures with those fans who do not hold any grudges.

On the pitch, London hooker Andy Ackers exposed some meek goalline defence to dummy over as early as the fifth minute, a sign of what would come much later.

Initially, though, the visitors did not cause too many other issues at all, their inability to keep hold of the ball long enough being one of the primary reasons.

The hosts, in contrast, quickly overcame that sluggish start and with the likes of Lee Jewitt and Danny Addy – despite playing on with a knee infection – ploughing forward, Jamie Ellis kicking well and Chris Atkin constantly asking questions, they were good value for a 25-8 interval lead.

Sheens’s side had already twice been held up over the London goalline in the same set before Addy finally dummied over on the last tackle in the 10th minute.

He had no right to score but London’s defence was surprisingly flimsy at times yesterday.

Sammut added a penalty to his earlier conversion but KR gained the lead with Kieren Moss’s 18th- minute try and never quite let it slip.

Robbie Mulhern made an instant impact when replacing the excellent Jewitt, the ex-Leeds Rhinos prop taking two strong leg-pumping carries before, with his third, charging over.

Next, Andrew Heffernan showed his class with a break down the right before sending Ryan Shaw in for the first of the winger’s brace and the Robins were 24-8 by the half-hour mark.

They turned the screw with Ellis forcing three drop-outs in quick succession even allowing for the scrum-half letting one of them bounce into touch, the sort of error that will irk Sheens.

Heffernan produced a fine defensive hit on James Cunningham, though, to win back possession and when the third drop-out arrived into Chris Atkin’s hands, the stand-off fired it straight back between the posts with a 40m drop-goal as the hooter sounded.

Ellis extended the lead early in the second period with a penalty though London showed they were still dangerous as Kieran Dixon made one sweeping midfield break.

Cunningham did cross, however, when Moss made a hash of trying to clear so Rovers were grateful when Mose Masoe returned for his second stint to scatter defenders, giving space for Shaun Lunt to scurry clear and supply Shaw with his second try.

They continued to make life hard for themselves, though, as a frustrating second period ensued. Shaw, for instance, cheaply gave the ball away when looking for his hat-trick when there was no need to force a pass.

London collected the pieces and combined slickly for Alex Walker to race in from 60m. Ellis slotted a penalty at 33-20 which seemed a strange and conservative decision. London then came firing back but ran out of time.

Hull KR: Moss; Shaw, Heffernan, Blair, Carney; Atkin, Ellis; Jewitt, Lawler, Masoe, Clarkson, Addy, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Lunt, Greenwood, Marsh, Mulhern.

London Broncos: Walker;Dixon, Hellewell, Kear, Williams; Sammut, Barthau; Spencer, Ackers, Ioane, Wilde, Pitts, Evans. Substitutes: Cunningham, Davis, Gee, Roqica.

Referee: T Grant (Leeds).