Super League: London Broncos come back from 30-8 down to beat Leeds Rhinos
Last Updated: 17/08/14 5:55pm
Joe Keyes ran in a hat-trick as the London Broncos earned a first win of the Super League campaign at the 24th time of asking with a stunning 40-36 victory over the Leeds Rhinos.
Keyes struck twice in the last 10 minutes as the Londoners staged a stirring comeback to erase a 30-8 deficit.
For an under-strength Rhinos it was a setback ahead of their Tetley's Challenge Cup final date next weekend, missing the chance to claim second spot in the process.
For the Broncos, there was a first start of the campaign for winger Kieran Dixon, 10 months on from knee surgery, with Thomas Minns stepping aside.
The visitors, with one eye on next weekend's Wembley showpiece, made nine changes from their semi-final defeat of Warrington, including giving Super League debuts to Ben White, Ashley Handley and Ashton Golding.
The Rhinos were fastest out of the blocks, Zak Hardaker's long pass cutting out the London defence and allowing Kallum Watkins to romp home inside two minutes.
Just four minutes later they had a second score, Hardaker again the provider, keeping the ball alive for Josh Walters to crash over.
The Broncos were offering precious little in attack, but Leeds had no such worries, Liam Sutcliffe running in a third try on 12 minutes after strong work from Watkins.
The Londoners finally got themselves on the board midway through the half, neat handling from Keyes and Nesi Mataitonga putting Jordan Atkins in at the corner.
And the Broncos then moved within a score two minutes later, a superb offload from Atkins allowing Keyes to creep in at the corner.
Suddenly the game was a real contest, Dixon close to levelling matters moments later when he attempted to wriggle over.
But Leeds steadied the ship and regained control on the half-hour mark, Mitch Achurch charging over after a flowing move.
There was still time for the porous London defence to concede a further try before the interval, Hardaker racing over after bouncing off a series of tackles.
It was more of the same after the break, Paul Aiton's break giving Sutcliffe a clear run to the line to open up a 30-8 Rhinos lead on 44 minutes.
Dixon did give London fans a glimpse of just what they have missed this season when he raced in at the corner after an excellent Mataitonga offload.
And, just as in the first half, the Broncos struck again quickly, Mike McMeeken easing over from a Scott Moore pass to reduce the arrears to 30-20.
But, also as in the first half, Leeds righted their wrongs almost instantly, Achurch muscling over for his second score on 55 minutes.
The tries kept coming, London claiming their fifth with 20 minutes to play when Moore rounded off excellent work from McMeeken and Ben Farrar.
And a grandstand finish was on the cards when Keyes burrowed over for his second try on 70 minutes, cutting the deficit to 36-32.
The comeback was complete when Keyes showed great footwork to race over three minutes later, Josh Drinkwater booting a late penalty to seal victory.