London Broncos are one step away from returning to Super League after scraping past Halifax 23-16 in the final round of the Super 8s Qualifiers.
A rousing second-half display was enough to ensure Broncos played their way into next Saturday’s Million Pound Game, where they will face either Hull KR or Toronto Wolfpack for the chance to return to the top flight for the first time since 2014.
Needing to avoid an unlikely 25-point swing to edge their way into next week’s winner-takes-all clash, London held their nerve to stem the tide thanks to Jarrod Sammut and Eloi Pelissier’s tries.
The Broncos had to do it the hard way against the West Yorkshire part-timers who led 16-12 at the break courtesy of first-half efforts from Ben Kaye, Steve Tyrer and Adam Tangata.
But an impressive kicking display from Sammut helped the Londoners gain the initiative with Kieran Dixon and Elliot Kear securing the all-important second-half tries as Halifax faded late on.
Halifax, who had not won a single Qualifiers game prior to kick-off, took a surprise lead when hooker Kaye dived through the Broncos backs and Tyrer converted.
The visitors soon extended their lead when captain Scott Murrell wonderfully chipped through for Tyrer to claim in the air and race over the line to silence the London crowd and offer light relief to the Toulouse fans watching at home.
However the early onslaught only served as inspiration for the Broncos as Danny Ward’s men rediscovered their composure through the endeavour of Sammut.
The Malta international took the ball out of the scrum and leapt through a tight gap to reduce the deficit before Frenchman Pellissier drew the sides level three minutes later with a steely run under the posts from dummy half.
But Fax’s spirit did not wilt under pressure and Richard Marshall’s side served up their third try from a penalty 40 metres out when Tangata had the power to inch his way down the right touchline and over the line to earn a shock half-time lead.
Halifax, who had not recorded a victory in the capital since 2003, proved worthy opponents, forcing London into unforced errors as Championship coach of the year Ward’s men struggled to find an opening.
But the decisive score eventually came with 20 minutes to go when Sammut’s inch-perfect high kick was knocked back to Dixon who grounded the ball over the line after video replay confirmation.
And Kear put the icing on the cake with 12 minutes remaining with a drive into the corner, as Sammut capped off a fine Qualifiers campaign with a last-second drop goal following Brandon Moore’s yellow card.