Rugby League: Bradford hit Tigers' weak spot

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Castleford 10 Bradford 52

BRADFORD might not be quite the irresistible force that terrorised the land last season, but you still need things like a pack and a bit of determination if you are to compete with them.

Castleford lacked both last night. Starting without three first-choice forwards, they soon lost another two through injury, but that was really scant excuse for the capitulation that handed the match to the Bulls during a first half that included a burst of five tries in 16 minutes.

Bradford looked world beaters once more as Shaun Edwards and Robbie Paul helped themselves to the easy pickings from Castleford's disarray. Edwards was the first, taking advantage of Jason Flower's fumble from Steve McNamara's kick to scoop up and score after eight minutes.

After both Mike Smith and Lee Harland had limped off - only temporarily in Harland's case - Castleford began to fall apart completely, Paul taking Bernard Dwyer's pass to spin through and start the avalanche.

McNamara's ball then allowed Tevita Vaikona to exploit weak defence on the blindside and Paul claimed his second after Flower's tackle had stopped Jeremy Donougher in full flight on an attack set up by another crass Castleford error when Gael Tallec knocked on.

James Lowes and Paul then combined to give Edwards his second, Danny Peacock sidestepping a leaden-footed Nathan Sykes for Bradford's sixth try before the break.

It was little wonder that Castleford, who showed what a good side they can be when they beat Bradford in the Challenge Cup in February, came off to the sound of booing from their own supporters.

With that, as well as a few well chosen words from their coach, Stuart Raper, ringing in their ears, Castleford at least made marginally more of a contest of it in the second half.

Although Paul grabbed his hat-trick from Edwards' kick, the home side registered their presence when Barrie-Jon Mather took Francis Maloney's high kick to score.

There was still tries there for the taking for Bradford, however, and their forwards, Brian McDermott and Donougher, added their names to the score sheet.

With Donougher in the sin-bin for pulling back a Castleford player, Maloney got his side's second from close range, Abi Ekoku and Brad Davis joining Donougher on the sidelines for the closing stages after a flare-up.

Even a man down, the Bulls had the final word, McDermott stretching out an arm to bring up their half-century in injury time, McNamara landing his sixth goal.

Castleford: Flowers; Gay, Critchley, Mather, Wells; Maloney, Davis; M Smith, Hall, Sykes, Tallac, Harland, Vowles. Substitutes used: Ford, McKell, Ellison, P Smith.

Bradford: Spruce; Viakona, Bradley, Peacock, Ekoku; Paul, Edwards; Donougher, Lowes, Reihana, Forshaw, Dwyer, McNamara Substitutes used: Nickel, Graham, McDermott, Scales,

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).

l Wigan went to top of Super League, at least for a few hours as Leeds face Sheffield this afternoon, last night with a comfortable 46-0 win against the bottom club Huddersfield.