Cook puts boot into battered Bradford

Rugby League: Leeds 42 Bradford Bulls 28
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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

Leeds 42 Bradford Bulls 28

Although Leeds were never in danger of losing this Regal Trophy third- round tie, they eventually owed their victory to a flawless display of goalkicking by Paul Cook.

Both sides scored six tries in a ragged and untidy match, but Cook's nine goals from as many attempts, several eminently missable, were the statistical difference between the two sides. "He never looked like missing," Matthew Elliott, the Bradford assistant coach, said ruefully.

He had other things to be rueful about, like the withdrawal of Paul Newlove with a recurrence of his back injury two hours before the kick-off. Without saying so directly, it was obvious that neither Elliott nor his chairman, Chris Caisley, were impressed.

On the face of it, a Bradford side lacking nine first choice players through a combination of injuries, flu and suspensions, did not do too badly. "But that flatters us a little," Elliott admitted. "We scored a lot of our points late and I would be living in fairyland if I said that we were as good as Leeds today."

Leeds effectively had the match won at half-time, with two tries from Craig Innes and one from George Mann, plus Cook's first five goals, giving them a 22-6 lead. Within seven minutes of the restart, they were firmly in control, Kevin Iro dummying his way over and Mick Shaw darting in from acting half.

At that point, Leeds showed their old penchant for sitting back and taking it easy, allowing Bradford to score five tries in the remaining half hour, three of them in the last eight minutes. Roger Simpson scored one and created another two with deft kicks to emerge with as much credit as any of the Bulls.

Leeds managed one other try, a bizarre one that summed up some of the eccentricities of Bradford's handling, when Robbie Paul gave the ball away to Innes and Francis Cummins raced in. Cook's conversion, and his ninth goal from a penalty, carried an air of inevitability.

Leeds: Tait; Cook, Iro, Innes, Cummins; Kemp (Forshaw, 27), Holroyd; Harmon (Howard, 54), Shaw, Howard, (Barrie McDermott, 29), Lowes, Mann, Mercer.

Bradford Bulls: Simpson; Christie, Graham, Turpin, Ellis; Paul, Robinson; Boothroyd (Winterburn, 26; Boothroyd, 60), Donohue (Winterburn, 72), Hamer, Knox, Brian McDermott (Hassan, 62), Wilson.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).

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