Bradford have plenty in reserve: Rugby League

Oldham Bears 12 Bradford Bulls 38
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The Independent Online
This year Bradford Bulls have so much power and ability that they do not need to summon it all up for a full 80 minutes to overawe the likes of Oldham.

They spent as much time grazing as stampeding at Boundary Park yesterday, but even playing in fits and starts were always going to be comfortable winners of this Silk Cup Challenge Cup quarter-final.

The daunting prospect, not just for prospective opponents in the cup semi-finals but for everyone in Super League, is that Bradford are a far better side than they were at this stage last year, even if they did not always look it in this match.

They started at full bore, forcing Oldham into damaging early errors and taking a lead through tries from Paul Loughlin and Stuart Spruce.

Oldham, to their credit, fought back from their dreadful start and looked to have had a valid try disallowed when the Bradford defence hesitated amid the confusion of pitch markings behind their posts and Scott Ranson touched down.

They did score when Martin Crompton and Gary Lord sent Darren Abram over and it was over a combination of bad luck and Bradford's improvisational flair that undermined their efforts before half-time.

Crompton's pass somehow finished up in the arms of Graeme Bradley and even though the ball went to ground it was rescued by James Lowes and worked out to the opposite wing for Danny Peacock to race in.

The other circumstance working heavily against Oldham was the pin-point goal-kicking of Steve McNamara, who landed the first three of his seven goals from as many attempts.

McNamara also started the second half burst of points that took the match beyond reach by landing a penalty.

Robbie Paul, who by his spectacular standards had been having a quiet game, then produced a piece of his characteristic magic, taking a pass from Glen Tomlinson and finding a gap where none seem to exist to score a memorable try.

Tomlinson then claimed two of his own within four minutes, first taking a pass from Sonny Nickle - who had been forced to drop out of the starting line-up when he was held up in the traffic that converged on Boundary Park to produce a gratifying gate of more than 11,000.

Another wonderful example of Paul's improvisation produced the final Bradford try when he palmed down Bradley's cross-kick straight into Tomlinson's hands.

Oldham scored a late try from Joe Faimalo, but apart from that brief period in the first half they had never been in this cup tie.

Only one match now separates Bradford from a return to Wembley, where they were beaten by St Helens last April. Even neutrals might be quietly hoping that the semi-final draw tonight keeps them apart.

Oldham: Atcheson; Ranson, Abram, Fawcett, Myler; Maloney, Crompton; Gildart, McKinney, Goldspink, Lord, Bradbury, Hill. Substitutes used: Clarke, Davidson, Faimalo, Goodwin.

Bradford: Spruce; Scales, Peacock, Bradley, Loughlin; Paul, Tomlinson; McDermott, Lowes, Reihana, Dwyer, Donougher, McNamara. Substitutes used: Cook, Nickle, Jowitt, Medley.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).