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My Favourite day as a fan – Stuart Court

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As sides go the 1997 squad will always be up there in history of London rugby since 1980. A side that went onto finish 2nd in Super League that year behind Bradford, but it was the ill fated World Club Challenge where the Broncos would get a rare win in that competition for British sides.

In June of that year London travelled to Australia to play the Brisbane Broncos (42-22), Canberra Raiders (66-20) and Canterbury Bulldogs (34-18) and suffered three defeats including a heavy one versus the Raiders.

Then it was back to playing those three Australian sides at the Stoop a month later in July, starting with a Monday evening battle against the Raiders. I was always going to the game and had the added bonus of winning a free ticket behind the temporary seating behind the sticks to left of the one and only lengthy main stand at the time from one of Rupert Murdoch’s News International publications.

Canberra were coached by Australian 46 cap legend, Mal Meninga. Meninga was 37 at the time and in his first year of coaching. That night the Raiders had current and past Australian internationals, Laurie Daley and Ricky Stuart at half backs

London were doing well in the domestic competition but went into the game with Shaun Edwards only on the interchange bench after having issues with an hamstring injury.

After 20 minutes it was looking like another heavy win for the Raiders with them 14-0 up and the Broncos having to play with 12 men, after winger Scott Roskell was sent to the sin bin after 2 minutes.

Then Edwards came off the bench and suddenly London came to life. Robbie Beazley went back to his regular role at hooker with Edwards at Scrum half. By half time London were level at 14 each (2 tries from Terry Matterson) with Daley in the sin bin just before the hooter.

The second half carried on as the first half left off for London with tries from Peter Gill and Tulsen Tollett. At this point Edwards went off. London had scored 26 unanswered points but they didn’t stop with more tries from Greg Barwick and Roskell. 38-14!

The home crowd was going bonkers in what they were witnessing and even a late try from Canberra could not stop a crowd of just under 8,000 going home with grins like Cheshire cats. 38-18 for the Broncos.

The full house signs were up for the next home game that Sunday against Brisbane. London would not win another game in that competition but that night was one I have never forgotten.

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