After stunning a Featherstone Rovers side, who were already making plans for 2024 in the Super League, with a sensational performance last weekend the London Broncos made the trip to the south of France to take on a Toulouse XIII side who were the hot favourites to make an immediate return to the topflight after having been relegated at the end of 2022.
It was an expansionists’ dream game with the guarantee that a side away from the rugby league heartlands would be plying their trade in the top division next season and the bookies had handicapped the home side by six points with the expectation that it would be a close game but with the French side being victorious.
With changes in the offing for league structure in 2025, and possession being nine tenths of the law, then it was crucial for both sides that they gained promotion from today’s game.
It took just three minutes for the home side to take the lead with a nice move down the right hands side, Mathieu Jussaume scoring and Jake Shorrocks making no mistake with the conversion for a 6-0 lead. An early hammer blow for London.
The second Toulouse try came on seventeen when Zac Santo broke the London line and went thirty metres before finding Josh Ralph to spring the last twenty and score by the sticks. The writing was already on the wall… and it was saying Toulouse Olympique XIII.
The Broncos were back in the game on twenty-five when Dean Whare was fastest to react as he chased a Corey Norman grubber into goal to ground one-handed. Norman failed to add the conversion, London still eight points adrift.
A thirty-second minute Shorrocks penalty goal after interference at the play the ball extended the home lead to ten points and gave the French side little more breathing space as the game headed towards half time.
London needed to score the first points of the second half and on fifty-three Norman found Alex Walker to beat his man over ten metres and ground one-handed for the second London try of the afternoon. Norman was wide with his conversion attempt, London within six of their opponents with plenty of time left, the difference between the two sides was the boot of Shorrocks.
London were in again on sixty-one thanks to a twenty-metre run from Macani down the left side as the Broncos built an overlap. Norman hit the post with his conversion attempt, the margin still two points in Toulouse favour but London were in the ascendancy.
Macani got his second on sixty-eight thanks to a fabulous touch pass from Walker which again earned the overlap. The score was in the corner, but this time Norman found the target to give his side a four-point lead.
Lambert Belmas was held up over the line on seventy-five as another Toulouse attack broke down without points being scored.
London held on for the most incredible and most famous of wins after keeping their opponents pointless in the second half.
It was a game of two halves. Toulouse were excellent in the first half with London barely having any ball or field position but in the second forty it was London who dominated and looked like a different team as they scored the points and took the win which will see them playing Super League football again next season for the first time since 2019. Toulouse will be bitterly disappointed that their only home loss of the season came in the most crucial game.
Toulouse Olympique XIII: Santo, Laguerre, Armitage Jussaume (T), Marcon, Shorrocks (3G), Ralph (T), Selmas, Gahan, Hansen, Peyroux, Stefani, Marion. Subs: Pelissier, Akauola, Bretherton, Richards. 18th Man: Pezet.
London Broncos: Walker (T), Grant, Bassett, Whare (T), Macani (2T), Raiwalui, Norman (G), Butler, Davis, Bienek, Lovell, Stock, Parata. Subs: Leyland B, Williams, Albert, Waine. 18th Man: Leyland O.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 12-4, 14-4 : HT: 14-8, 14-12, 14-16, 14-18 :FT.
Lead Exchanges: Toulouse – London.
Referee: Jack Smith.