By STEVE MASCORD
LONDON started the Super League season disastrously when centre David Howell broke an arm and captain Craig Gower suffered a worrying groin injury in a heavy home loss to Widnes.
In front of just 2856 fans at the Stoop, the Broncos found themselves down 18-0 by halftime to a Widnes side which still has several key players – including star signing Gareth Hock – to be added. A second-half revival by Tony Rea’s men came far too late.
Making matters worse are injuries to Howell, halfback Gower – who missed most of the second half – and five-eighth Michael Witt (also groin).
“We didn’t handle the emotion of the day well,” said coach Tony Rea, referring to expectations the club would be more competitive this season.
“By that I mean there is expectation. We want expectation to do do well. They (Widnes) played like they had nothing to lose. We want people to expect things from us.”
Rea said the seriousness of Gower and Witt’s injuries would be known in the next 48 hours. “We’re a squad, we’re not just one player,” he said in reference to Gower.
For rival Denis Betts, who saw his side defend grimly to deny several Broncos scoring chances at the death, next weekend’s clash with local rivals St Helens will not be made easier by the victory in the capital or Saints’s dismal 40-4 defeat the previous evening to Hudderfield.
“I can’t remember watching St Helens play that badly – ever, in 10 years of Super League,” said Betts. “I think they’ll be a completely different side next week.
“That was an anomaly that threw itself up last night. It was one of those things. I don’t think we’ll be watching the tape and hoping they play that badly again. I just can’t see it.
“They’ve got too many good players, they’re too well coached, I think the response next week will be massive.”
Widnes’ Danny Craven suffered a broken collarbone.
WIDNES 28 (S Marsh 2 J Clarke D Allen F Winterstein tries R Hanbury 4 goals) bt LONDON 14 (K Dixon 2 tries, goal) at The Stoop. Referee: T Roby. Crowd: 2856.
Final team lists:
LONDON: Luke Dorn; Kiean Dixon, David Howell, Alex Hurst, Jamie O’Callaghan; Michael Witt, Craig Gower; Chris Bailey, Shane Rodney, Will Lovell, Scott Wheeldon, Chad Randall, Antonio Kaufusi. Res: Mark Bryant, Olsi Krasniqi, Thomas Lee, Chris Melling.
WIDNES: Rhys Hanbury; Willie Isa, Stefan Marsh, Chris Dean, Paddy Flynn; Joe Melling, Danny Craven; Hep Cahill, Macgraff Leuluai, Dave Allen, Eamon O’Carroll, John Clarke, Ben Cross. Res: Lloyd White, Alex Gerard, Frank Winterstein, Phil Joseph.
Halftime: Widnes 18-0