Hornets hoping for an upset as Broncos are in town
Date published: 14 July 2017
In the penultimate game of the regular season, Rochdale Hornets welcome London Broncos to the Crown Oil Arena on Sunday afternoon.
It will be the last home game of the Championship season before the split for the Championship Shield, where a further seven games will be played.
Hornets could secure four home games in the next stage of the campaign if they finish in the top eight, as they currently occupy eighth spot.
They had temporarily slipped to ninth after a disappointing defeat to Dewsbury Rams, before moving back up a space with a win over Swinton Lions.
It was a victory that was described as their most “courageous” by head coach Alan Kilshaw, as they fought hard for a 33-28 derby triumph.
The game was in the balance until the final hooter sounded, as Lewis Foster’s drop-goal edged the hosts ahead, before Chris Atkin had a chance to give his side the lead with a penalty goal.
He struck the post though, and up the other end of the field Rob Massam charged over in the corner to seal the points, as Rochdale saw out the final minutes to pick up a crucial win.
The Broncos also had a positive result last weekend, as they cruised to a 52-16 victory over Sheffield Eagles to secure their place in the top four.
They will want to cement second place though, as that gives them four home games in the Qualifiers, where they will meet the bottom four of Super League.
The last time these two sides met was back in round 7 at Trailfinders Sports Ground, where a late flurry saw the home side pull away to a 28-8 lead.
Rochdale were in front at the break thanks to a Massam double, but the introduction of Jarrod Sammut in the final 20 minutes saw London run in three late tries, as the score line flattered them.
It was a good showing against full-time opponents, and with some smarter play and the rub of the green it could have been a different outcome.
Kilshaw underlined the threat that this week’s opponents possess, he said: "They are a good side and I’m sure they will cause some Super League teams problems in the next phase,” he said.
“It’s more about us this week, and about performing. I think we’ve done well against these teams, these full-time teams, and I think we’ve done well against these teams with bigger budgets.
“We haven’t caused an upset for a while, and that’s something in our thoughts, we’re going to go out there and play to win.
“We know it’s going to be a tough challenge but these lads are up for the challenge, the coaches are up for the challenge and it’s an exiting game.”
Kilshaw also confirmed that trio Gary Middlehurst, Lewis Palfrey and Miles Greenwood are still missing due to injuries which kept them out of the Swinton victory.
One huge bonus though is the availability of strike centre Lewis Galbraith, as his eight-game ban was quashed during an appeal this week, meaning he will be free to play on Sunday.
Prior to this weekend’s game here will be a minute’s applause to celebrate the life of Evan Hawksworth, the Under-14 Stanley Rangers Rugby League player who tragically passed away after sustaining a head injury during a game.