Bradford shrug off final failure

Bradford 38 St Helens 18
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The Independent Online
Bradford gained speedy and satisfying revenge for their defeat in the Challenge Cup final last weekend with an overpowering display that takes them four points clear of Saints at the top of the Stones Super League.

Spearheaded by two tries from Mike Forshaw, signed too late for Wembley but with the need for depth over the long league season in mind, the Bulls trampled opponents against whom they had been so tentative and error-prone eight days earlier.

They were assisted by some defending that had a distinct whiff of a Wembley hangover about it, but Bradford's performance was still testimony to a buoyant optimism that has not been dented by a second Cup final disappointment in a row.

Saints' fallibility near their own line was illustrated as early as the ninth minute when Bernard Dwyer wrestled his way out of some half- hearted attempts to grab him for Bradford's first try. Saints responded with a try by Anthony Sullivan after Bobbie Goulding's long pass and Steve Prescott's drawing of the defence had opened the way. That was all the encouragement they were to get until it was far too late.

Forshaw, the former Wigan, Wakefield and Leeds forward who drifted through the winter with Saracens before being brought back into the rugby league fold last month, ripped his way out of Tommy Martyn's tackle to score and Steve McNamara then went over from a Brian McDermott break with the Saints defence falling over themselves in their attempts to tackle him.

With Danny Arnold in the sinbin for deliberate offside, Bradford crossed twice more early in the second half, Forshaw juggling the excellent McNamara's pass for one try and Paul Loughlin finding a big gap in the ranks of his old team-mates for another. Now it was Bradford's turn to relax and Saints gained some respectability with a try from Apollo Perelini and a penalty- try awarded after a length of the field kick and chase by Martyn.

It was far too late for Saints to prevent their ambitions to retain their title becoming badly battle-scarred and Simon Knox restored normal service by touching down from James Lowes' pass, while McNamara finished with seven goals.

For the second year running, Bradford had handed a decisive beating to Saints at Odsal. They must wish that Cup finals could be played here as well, but at this rate this will be the venue at which the Super League championship is celebrated later this summer.

Bradford: Spruce; Scales, Loughlin, Peacock, Ekoku; Bradley, Tomlinson; McDermott, Lowes, Reihana, Forshaw, Dwyer, McNamara. Substitutes used: Graham, Calland, Anderson, Knox.

St Helens: Prescott; Arnold, Haigh, Newlove, Sullivan; Martyn, Goulding; Perelini, Cunningham, O'Neill, Morley, McVey, Hammond. Substitutes used: Pickavante, Matautia, Joynt, Northey.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).