1997 London Broncos v Canberra Raiders

Published in Thirteen in 2005

Tulsen Tollett about the Broncos’ most famous game

London Broncos 38
Canberra Raiders 18
Monday 15th June 1997
The Stoop

The World Club Challenge of 1997 holds few happy memories for British fans and indeed London were beaten 66-20 in Canberra but on June 15th, it all came right for the Broncos.

At 14-0 down it seemed that another British side was going to be hammered. In the weekend’s games, Bradford had lost 64-14 in Auckland, Canterbury hit 40 points at Thrum Hall, Warrington conceded 48 in Penrith and Wigan lost 30-4 at home to Brisbane. At least in Pool B, Leeds and Oldham had registered much needed wins.

But London did the English game proud The veteran Shaun Edwards came off the bench and within minutes, Terry Matterson plunged over from dummy half. Edwards was then involved in a great handling move with Tollett and Martin Offiah before the ball was shipped out wide for Matterson’s second. A Greg Barwick penalty levelled the scores at 14-14.

Peter Gill put the Broncos ahead for the first time after Offiah had put London on the front foot and nine minutes later Tollett himself scored. He made the initial break on the half way line down the right wing. A few plays later he was crashing onto Matterson flat pass from dummy half to score. 26-14.

It was at this point that Edwards went off. 26 unanswered points with the former Great Britain maestro on the pitch.

On the hour mark, Gill placed a perfect kick down Offiah’s wing. In attempting to gather the ball, Albert Fulivai lost it under Offiah’s pressure and it squirmed away to a grateful Greg Barwick to touch down. The Broncos’ luck was well and truly in.

The next try involved no luck; merely pathetic Raiders defence. London stalwart Scott Roskell positioned himself at first receiver 3o metres out and incredibly ran around Quentin Pongia and straight through to the posts. Luke Priddis scored a late consolation for Canberra and London recorded a 38-18 win at the ground they return to in 2006 in front of an ecstatic crowd of nearly 8,000. An extra 2,000 television viewers were impressed enough to turn up the following week for the game against Brisbane Broncos.

London also came second in the Super League, in the club’s best ever year recording memorable wins over Wigan, Bradford and Leeds on the way.

Tulsen, how confident were you going into the Canberra game given how the tournament had gone for the British sides beforehand?
Reasonably confident to be honest because although we didn’t win over there, and the Canberra result was poor, we went on a good run back over here in the Super League. We didn’t lose for a good six games in Super League, beat Wigan two weeks before the Canberra game and were beating Sheffield 44-0 at half time at their place the week before the Canberra game. So we were playing pretty well. We didn’t think too much of our results down under but to be honest we’d done okay in two of them. We were beating Brisbane with 20 minutes to go and Canterbury didn’t beat us by a great deal.

You made a poor start to game though.
Yeah we were 14-0 down and there was a slight sense of deja-vu but gathered behind the posts we were pretty calm and there was no mouthing off. Terry Matterson got our first two tries to get us back into it. We were leading at half time then Martin (Offiah) scored a try from a kick through. Once we got some confidence and realised that we had them rattled we went from strength to strength.

What was the turning point? Was it Shaun Edwards coming on?
Yeah I think it changed things because Robbie Beazley was playing scrum half so he went to hooker which meant I didn’t have to organise things in the middle and I could go further out wide. Shaun came on, didn’t get tackled too many times and led us around the field so that, along with the first couple of tries we scored, was the turning point.

The avalanche of points was fantastic wasn’t it? It just didn’t seem to stop!
Yeah it was good and the crowd got right behind us too. It’s a funny sport because once a few things go your way and you get a bit of confidence then things click into gear and that’s what happened that night. I remember all the kicks we did worked well and we were getting repeat sets. Even when I scored my try, I thought I might have dropped it but they gave it without going to the video. Everything seemed to click that night.

What effect did that performance have on the club at the time?
The biggest thing was playing at that ground. Especially now with the new stand. The fans are close to the action and the facilities are great. It was a great place to play at when things were going well.

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