Rugby League: Bradford give Schofield food for thought

Huddersfield 6 Bradford 38
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THE Bradford Bulls began the defence of their title with a convincing enough victory, taking advantage of the Super League newcomers when they were a man down and again when they tired near the end.

Bradford showed during a punishing spell midway through the first half that they had some new tricks, or at least variations on old ones, up their sleeves, not least an ability to make yards at will from dummy-half and plenty of invention on the last tackle.

Huddersfield did well to hold them for almost 20 minutes, but then a dazzling Robbie Paul run took him almost to the line. Chris Orr's defence to stop the ball getting out cost him 10 minutes in the sin-bin and Bradford scored three times while he was missing.

First, Steve McNamara and Jeremy Donougher moved the ball to the right wing for the new signing Tevita Vaikona. McNamara's inside pass, again on the sixth tackle, then sent Stuart Spruce over and another fine piece of work from the loose-forward, who also finished with five goals, set up Danny Peacock immediately before Orr's return.

Huddersfield raised their game and were within inches of a spectacular if partial reply early in the second half when Sonny Nickle chased Dean Hanger half the length of the field and caught him just in time to stop him getting the ball down. A try and goal then might have opened matters up. Instead, Mike Forshaw took Bradford out of sight with a solo effort.

Too late, the Huddersfield captain, Danny Russell, got them on the electronic scoreboard, touching down after a brilliant jinking run.

Bradford soon reasserted themselves, Vaikona fielding a kick from Orr, breaking down the right touchline and finding Bradford's other major signing, Shaun Edwards, in support. Edwards, unhappy at only being named a substitute, was also involved in sending Graeme Bradley in for Bradford's sixth try, before Vaikona went in for his second in the last minute.

The Huddersfield coach, Garry Schofield, was pleased with their effort but feels they need more direction on the field. "I'll give it three games and if it isn't forthcoming, I'll have to think about playing again myself," he said.

Huddersfield: Cook; Belle, Weston, Loughlin, Arnold; Veivers, Orr, Harmon, Russell, Neill, Wittenberg, Fozzard, Sturm. Substitutes used: Hanger, King, Richards, Berry.

Bradford Bulls: Spruce; Vaikona, Calland, Peacock, Ekoku; Bradley, Paul; McDermott, Dwyer, Reihana, Donougher, Forshaw, McNamara. Substitutes not used: Nickle, Graham, Jowitt, Edwards.

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).