Bradford Bulls 10 Warrington Wolves 46
By Rachel Arnett (photo courtesy of Neil Ashurst)
Warrington Wolves have reached the Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi finals after a comprehensive win over Bradford Bulls at Odsal.
This was the last of the weekend’s quarter finals with three names already in the hat for the next round with Widnes Vikings, Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers winning the earlier ties. The question before kick-off was ‘who would be joining them?’
The tie was a repeat of the 2010 quarter final. Warrington came away 26-22 winners on that occasion and went on to lift the famous silverware for the second consecutive year.
But in their last meeting a couple of weeks ago it was the Bulls who took away the two league points. However, since that defeat, the Wolves have gone on to find some of their much-recognised good form registering four wins from the last four.
Going into the game both sides made minimal changes to last week’s 17 with the Wolves bringing Grix in for the injured Laithwaite; and the Bulls moving in Henry and O’Brien in place of Kaufusi and Ferguson.
The opening stages of the game saw both sides make a number of errors, handing possession over to the opposition, and on 10 minutes the scoreboard remained empty. But on 14 minutes the Wolves broke the deadlock when Myler found a gap in the defence to dart over from close range. The Bulls responded immediately with a score of their own through Kear in the corner. Further tries from Atkins and Russell stretched the visitors’ lead at the break.
The second forty saw the Bulls record their second try before the Wolves took control of the game with a second try from Myler, a brace from Joel Monaghan and one from Currie as the final 10 minutes got underway. The boot of Bridge was on target for all but one of the afternoon’s kicks.
The Wolves will now face Leeds Rhinos in the next round; a team they have beaten in two Challenge Cup finals at Wembley.
The Bulls made a strong start with the opening set. A kick on the last was unfortunate not to be a 40/20.
From this the Wolves mounted their first attack and were awarded an early penalty to edge them closer following interference by the Bulls.
The visitors came to within inches but the pressured defence forced a knock-on.
Another opportunity came soon after when Myler was taken out late following a kick on the last but once again the ball came free mid-tackle to deny a score.
The opening try of the game came on 14 minutes. The Wolves switched from defence to attack after the ball came free in the tackle. A penalty followed after the Bulls were pulled up for interference at play the ball, and Myler found the space needed to dart over from close range. 0-6.
Four minutes later and the home side responded with a score of their own. After testing the defence, play moved right for Kear to cross in the corner. The conversion was missed giving the Wolves a narrow two-point edge. 4-6.
An error from the restart handed the attacking possession back to the Wolves as the kick-off was left to bounce over the dead-ball line.
Just after the 20-minute mark Atkins crossed for the visitors’ second, breaking through the defence to cross close to the posts for an easy conversion. 4 - 12.
This sparked a further Wolves’ attack with Russell darting over for the next score under the posts; the ball having come free in the tackle in earlier play.
An opportunity then came for the Bulls after a kick was charged down and ricocheted in favour of a Bradford repeat set. The kick on the last was tapped out of play by the fingertips of Rhys Evans and a goal-line drop-out forced the Wolves to defend a repeat set.
However, despite their best efforts the Bulls were unable to break the line and the Wolves went in 18-4 ahead at half time.
The Wolves started the second half the stronger and looked to open the scoring in the first set; space opened up down the middle but Ratchford’s pass to Myler back on the inside was pulled up for being forward.
In the next attacking play a pass from Bridge was deemed not to have touched a Bulls’ hand in the tackle or been played at allowing George to scoop up the loose ball to run over 60 metres to score. Gale added the extras to narrow the gap.
The Wolves didn’t let this affect their concentration and started their run of tries. The first came from Ormsby; the Bulls had been pulled back for stripping the ball from the tackle which gave the Wolves the close range attack they needed. 10-24
A Grix try was ruled out minutes later for an earlier offside from a Bridge grubber kick. Another try wasn’t too far away though, as Myler crossed for his second on 61 minutes, ducking under the defence to touch down on video referee confirmation.
A brace of tries then followed for Joel Monaghan; one with pinpoint accuracy in the corner, the second stretching himself over the line for the touchdown.
The final score of the game came from Currie to rub salt into the wounds of the Bradford team. The conversion drifted wide. 10-46.
Despite the best efforts of both teams in the final eight minutes, no further points were added to the scoreboard and the Wolves were safely through to the last four.
Head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: “I thought we did a good job in the first half considering the slowness of the game…We had to speed the game up if we were going to win and I thought we did that pretty well in the second half. We sped up the game and kept the ball a little bit better. We felt we’d get some opportunities if we were a bit smarter and a bit faster with the ball; and those opportunities came…I thought defensively we were very good.
“I can’t fault too many players there today for our team. I thought they were all pretty solid and worked hard for each other. They have been doing that for a while now …Stringing some victories together as well as some performances, so I’m pleased with their progress and the way they are going about it playing some attractive Rugby League amongst it.”
When highlighting individual performances Smith said: “Richie (Myler) was good. He’s finding his way back in the team and he did some good things and fitted in well…Stef Ratchford was outstanding I thought today; 41 tackles for Stef playing loose forward, right second row and left halfback, a lot of dummy half runs as well.
“Anthony England had his best game. I certainly think he’s coming up to the speed of Super League and he was very good last week too. Roy had his strongest game for us too. It’s taken a little time for Roy to adapt to the Super League; it’s different if you switch on NRL and Super League, they are played under different rules and it takes time to find your feet like it does coming from the Championship.”
On the final four in the Cup he added: “I don’t really care who else is there as long as we are there fighting for it… It would be nice to see some fresh names there. I think it’s good that either Cas or Widnes will be there whether it’s against Leeds or Warrington… I think it’s fantastic that there will be a fresh name there at Wembley. We would like to make it our name next to that! I think that it’s fantastic for the game; for too long it’s been the same three or four, it was great when Huddersfield snuck in there.”
Lee Gaskell, Elliot Kear, Matty Blythe, Adrian Purtell, Luke George, Danny Addy, Luke Gale, Manase Manuokafoa, Matt Diskin, Chev Walker, Jay Pitts, Tom Olbison, James Donaldson
Subs: Adam Sidlow, Adam O’Brien, Jamal Fakir, Adam Henry
Tries: Kear, George
Matty Russell, Rhys Evans, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Gene Ormsby, Chris Bridge, Richie Myler, Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Anthony England, Ben Harrison, Ben Currie, Stefan Ratchford
Subs: Simon Grix, Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, Ben Evans
Tries: Myler (2), Atkins, Russell, Ormsby, J Monaghan (2), Currie
Goals: Bridge (7)
Photo gallery courtesy of Bob Brough