London Broncos 18 Hull KR 58: Peacock comes out of retirement to ease drop fears for Robins

Hull Kingston Rovers' Jamie Peacock.Hull Kingston Rovers' Jamie Peacock.
Hull Kingston Rovers' Jamie Peacock.
BACK in his old familiar post-match training gear rather than more recent suit attire, Hull KR's head of rugby Jamie Peacock smiled when questioned about the final training session before this victorious return from retirement.

The former Great Britain captain, whose illustrious career was supposed to end when helping treble-winning Leeds Rhinos to Grand Final glory last October, made his playing comeback yesterday, not far short of his 39th birthday.

He duly helped his relegation-threatened and depleted Rovers side to a much-needed win at Championship London Broncos as they put themselves back in pole position to clinch the crucial Qualifiers third place – and Super League status in 2017.

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However, head coach James Webster – a year Peacock’s junior – revealed post-match that the distinguished veteran prop had dropped his first two passes in their final training run.

“I don’t think anyone dare say anything to him!” smiled Webster, about the legendary figure who, essentially, now manages them all.

“But Benny Cockayne, being Benny, was happy to chip in and told him to pull his head in a bit.”

Peacock – who grew into the game playing around half-hour in two spells – confirmed that version of events, Rovers’ colourful full-back always the most likely to fire a quip.

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“I did drop the first two. But I just got on with it – and catched the third,” he laughed.

“He took the Mick out of me but no one’s too big; the best leaders show vulnerability.

“I felt alright today. My groins are really sore purely from training but once out there I slipped quite easily into it.

“I wanted to give our forwards a rest for half an hour and was happy with how that went.”

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Peacock will be the first to admit, however, that, for all the fanfare over his unexpected return, it was the comeback of another that proved most influential.

Terry Campese, their gifted but injury-ravaged captain, made his first appearance in more than three months and, thankfully, ran the show.

The Australian stand-off was supposed to be out for the season due to a hamstring problem but there is clearly more than one Lazarus available at Craven Park.

Fears the 32-year-old may have rushed back too soon in these desperate times were soon allayed as he manoeuvred his side perfectly towards victory with his amalgamation of fine kicking and distribution.

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It was only his sixth game of the campaign but, with Maurice Blair home in Australia for his brother’s funeral and fellow half Albert Kelly still suspended for breaking club discipline, how they needed his guile.

Rovers, who had lost at home to Leigh Centurions the previous week to increase pressure, were 24-0 up inside just 13 minutes and the former Kangaroo had created three of their four tries.

“Terry gives us direction – we’ve lacked that all season but through no fault of the people in those situations,” said Webster, whose side were hauled back into 24-12 at half-time only for James Greenwood’s try soon into the second period to allay any fears.

“They’re different types of players we’ve had there.

“To have him back was great; when he’s played he’s played very well for us and been instrumental. He came through it all fine as well on an artificial pitch.

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“Jamie looked fit, too. It was a hot day, fast game. We didn’t expect him to play that many minutes but he carried well and didn’t miss any tackles that I remember so it was a good first hit-out.”

Thomas Minns, the improving centre who spent a year on loan at London from Leeds, profited most from Campese’s return scoring a hat-trick of tries.

Matty Marsh, the young scrum-half given more licence to roam with his half-back partner organising, crossed twice, too, one a lovely side-stepping effort, while James Donaldson, Kieran Dixon and Cockayne also scored, Josh Mantellato adding nine goals.

Furthermore, there was a try for Will Jubb, the teenage hooker who won the Academy’s player of the year on Thursday and then sacrificed a holiday in Magaluf to make his Rovers debut following George Lawler’s broken back.

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The win moves Hull KR up to third in place of Huddersfield due to a superior points difference.

Giants head to Featherstone Rovers next Sunday while Huddersfield face the far sterner test of Leeds at Headingley.

The hope, for the East Yorkshire club at least, is their position is secured without having to rely on the final game – Huddersfield at home seven days later.

London Broncos: Alex Walker; Williams, Hellewell, Kear, Macani; Barthau, Soward; Slyney, Cunningham, Ioane, Harrison, Garside, Bussey. Substitutes: Ackers, Thackray, Magrin, Bussey.

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Hull KR: Cockayne; Dixon, Minns, Thornley, Mantellato; Campese, Marsh; Tilse, Lunt, Allgood, Clarkson, Greenwood, Donaldson. Substitutes: Larroyer, Peacock, Adam Walker, Jubb.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).