London Broncos (12) 24, Keighley Cougars (0) 10

London Broncos ended their eight-year wait for a Challenge Cup victory with a 24–10 defeat of the brave Keighley Cougars at The Rock. 

For a first game of the season, it was not surprising that the error count was high, but the Broncos never looked desperately troubled after forcing Robert Matamosi into touch as Keighley tried to return the kick-off downfield.  

James Meadows was pulled down short a few metres from the line, but from the play-the-ball Sam Davis moved the ball out to Cory Aston, and his long pass was caught by Gideon Boafo.  

There was a lot of work still to do but the rapid winger went airborne before grounding the ball. Less than 80 seconds into the game, London were in front and Chris Hankinson added a magnificent conversion from the touchline. 

A knock-on from Meadows and forward pass to Abbas Miski denied London a second score. However, the Cougars defence could not cope first with a strong Miski run down the left then, after he was tackled, the ball was moved smartly to the right and there weren’t enough red-and-blue-shirted defenders to stop Jacob Jones from crossing the line and going round close to the posts. 

Jacob Jones breaks free to score his team’s second try during the Betfred Challenge Cup Round One match at The Rock. Photo by David Horn.

The game became very tetchy just before half-time and London went to the sheds two men down, Miski and Paulus Latu having been sin-binned along with Keighley’s Matamosi. 

The Cougars could not take advantage of the extra man as London’s defence remained solid. Like the Broncos, Keighley were also guilty of poor handling in good positions, especially when losing the ball on the second tackle of a repeat set. 

Jones’s sparkling debut continued just before the hour mark as he squirmed out of a tackle and passed the ball to Davis, and the hooker squirmed his way through a couple of tacklers to touch down. 

The last hope for Keighley expired when another powerful break from Miski set up good position and Romain Navarrete became the third debutant to mark his first game with a try. Hankinson added the extras for a perfect four from four. 

In the last 10 minutes, the Cougars got the reward their efforts deserved when Mo Agoro scored in the corner after a good run from Taylor Prell. 

Jack Miller kicked an excellent conversion from the right wing, but he failed to kick a second goal when he struck the post with a shot after Brenden Santi had muscled his way over the line on what proved to be the last play of the game. 

Report by David Ballheimer

LONDON BRONCOS 

5 Ed Chamberlain, 20 Gideon Boafo, 4 Will Lovell, 3 Chris Hankinson, 17 Abbas Miski, 1 James Meadows, 6 Cory Aston, 8 Olsi Krasniqi, 14 Sam Davis, 15 Romain Navarrete, 12 Rhys Curran, 25 Jacob Jones, 13 Josh Walters. 

Replacements: 10 Greg Richards, 23 Josh Hodson, 28 Titus Gwaze, 30 Paulos Latu. 

Tries: Boafo 2, Jones 18, Davis 54, Navarrete 68. Goals: Hankinson 4/4 

Sin-bin: Miski 35, Latu 37 

KEIGHLEY COUGARS 

25 Ben Stead, 2 Mo Agoro, 4 Taylor Prell, 31 Charlie Graham, 5 Robert Matamosi, 19 Billy Gaylor, 7 Jack Miller, 23 Matthew Bailey, 14 Ryan Wright, 20 Brenden Santi, 28 Josh Lynam, 12 Dan Parker, 24 Keiran Moran. 

Replacements: 8 Jack Coventry, 9 Kyle Kesik, 13 Aaron Levy, 27 Jack Arnold. 

Tries: Agoro 71, Santi 80. Goal: Miller 1/2. 

Sin-bin Matamosi 35 

Referee: Robert Hicks