Bradford Bulls 34 Warrington Wolves 28
By Rachel Arnett (photo courtesy of Neil Ashurst, P&B Pictures)
Warrington Wolves travelled to the Provident Stadium to take on Bradford Bulls as the two sides took to the field in First Utility Super League action just weeks ahead of their Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter-final tie.
The teams came into this game on the back of Challenge Cup victories last weekend with Warrington defeating Doncaster and Bradford mounting a comeback against the Catalan Dragons.
The Wolves’ 17 saw just two changes with Michael Monaghan and Ben Harrison back in the fold in place of Glenn Riley and Brad Dwyer. The Bradford line-up however, saw four name changes; Arundel, Mellor, Bates and Kaufusi in, George, Fakir, Walker and Manuokafoa out.
The match was a close affair throughout with the lead changing hands and only a few points separating the teams at any one time. The Wolves secured a narrow half time lead after tries from England, Bridge, Penny and Joel Monaghan but the Bulls built on their three first-half tries early in the second forty with Purtell scoring a brace and Kear adding to their winning total. Russell crossed for the visitors in the second half but there wasn’t enough in the tank to add any more.
The Wolves made good ground in their opening set with a deep kick on the last. They backed this up well in their first defensive set and were able to take advantage of a spilt ball and penalty by Bradford to score the opening points.
Six minutes in and England forced his way over the line for Bridge to convert but this six-point lead didn’t last long as the Bulls forced a pressure kick by the visitors to gain possession on half way. 10 minutes in and the home side were over through Foster who touched down in the corner. The Wolves held on to the narrow lead as the conversion was missed.
The Wolves showed their eagerness to keep the ball alive and convert possession into points when a high kick on the last was left to bounce by the opposition; the Wolves reclaimed and play was carried over to the left where Bridge was tackled on the last just short.
Control then switched hands as a Wolves’ pass saw the ball go to ground. Kearney was quick to react and ran over 60 metres to take the lead on 16 minutes. Foster’s conversion took the score to 10-6.
A Bulls’ error from the restart handed the Wolves their next try and Bridge found space in the defensive line to score. He converted his own try to take a two-point lead.
Then came an exciting passage of play. The ball went to ground from the Bulls, Michael Monaghan scooped it up out to Atkins who gathered pace and with the help of Joel Monaghan on his outside put Penny over in the corner. This was converted and gave the Wolves some breathing space at 10-18.
After repeat drop outs Olbison turned opportunity into points for the Bulls. Foster’s conversion narrowed the gap once again at 16-22 before Joel Monaghan had the final say of the half.
Rhys Evans brushed off two defenders to get to within 30 metres. As play moved right, space opened up for Joel Monaghan to score in the far corner. The conversion was pulled wide and the Wolves went in with a narrow 22-16 lead at half time despite Hill and Waterhouse coming closing in the dying seconds.
The Bulls started the second half strongly and eight minutes in Purtell’s converted try levelled the score at 22-22 following a chip kick in goal.
With Bradford keeping the ball alive they kept the Wolves on their toes in the early stages of the second half. But on the back of conceding penalties the Wolves still came away with the ball at a crucial time and Russell had the agility and strength to reach around the defenders to score. Bridge landed the conversion 22-28 after 59 minutes.
The visitors looked to have set up another fine score after a show-and-go from Michael Monaghan; the ball came free and was played at by the Bulls giving the Wolves another six from close range. But the Bulls managed to turn play around and win back possession to put Wolves on the back foot and on 69 minutes Kear was over for the home side. 26-28.
The stadium erupted four minutes later when Purtell crossed for his second on the back of a penalty. Foster’s kick widened the margin to four points 32-28.
The pressure showed in the closing stages when a Wolves’ drop-out attempt didn’t go the distance handing the Bulls an easy two points from in front of the sticks for the final score of the game; 34-28.
Lee Gaskell, Elliot Kear, Joe Arundel, Jamie Foster, Adam Henry, Brett Kearney, Luke Gale, Antonio Kaufusi, Matt Diskin, Adam Sidlow, Adrian Purtell, Jay Pitts, Danny Addy
Subs: Tom Olbison, Adam O’Brien, Alex Mellor, Sam Bates
Tries: Foster, Kearney, Olbison, Purtell (2), Kear
Goals: Foster (5)
Matty Russell, Joel Monaghan, Rhys Evans, Ryan Atkins, Kevin Penny, Chris Bridge, Gareth O’Brien, Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Anthony England, Trent Waterhouse, James Laithwaite, Ben Evans
Subs: Roy Asotasi, Ben Harrison, Ben Currie, Micky Higham
Tries: England, Bridge, Penny, J Monaghan, Russell
Goals: Bridge (4)
Half Time: 16 - 22
Full Time: 34 - 2
Photo Gallery courtesy of Bob Brough