Bateman returns to make it a dark night for Robins

Bradford Bulls 34 Hull Kingston Rovers 12

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The Independent Online

Bradford Bulls consolidated their unlikely position of third in Super League with the help of two notable recent absentees.

Adrian Purtell played his first game since a heart attack last May while the highly-regarded back-rower, John Bateman, 19, made his first appearance of the season following a shoulder reconstruction.

Purtell was given a standing ovation when he came off the bench after 25 minutes. "It's overwhelming, the support I've had," he said. "The platform was laid by then, I just had to come on and do my job."

If Purtell's return was low key, then Bateman showed his potential by helping Bradford to overcome their injury problems and the absence of other key players by playing a number of roles and was involved in many of their best attacks.

Another key factor was the paucity of the opposition. Hull Kingston Rovers made an abysmal start with two elementary errors which were instantly punished. Evarn Tuimavave lost the ball in the tackle to allow the Bulls to move it to the left wing for Jamie Foster to score.

Con Mika then followed suit and, after a storming run by Nick Scruton, Bradford got their second try thanks to Brett Kearney touchdown from Danny Addy's kick.

The Robins would have been further behind, but Foster missed both goals and Bradford turned down a number of other inviting opportunities. Rovers even made the scoreboard when they crossed through David Hodgson, but it was a brief interlude in their general incompetence.

"I thought we lived dangerous whenever we had the ball but we couldn't hang on to it," said the Rovers coach, Craig Sandercock.

The Bulls went further ahead through Elliot Kear's try from Kearney's kick before Bateman demonstrated his long-term importance to the club by scoring one try and starting the move that led to Jarrod Sammut claiming another.

Rovers at least had some possession at the start of the second half and were rewarded when Josh Hodgson crossed from close range. They could have made a contest of it with a little more steadiness but Bradford dampened hopes of a comeback when Sammut found a gap for his second. The only further scoring came from a penalty by Foster, bringing his tally to five goals.

In yesterday's other game, London Broncos came from behind to score 20 unanswered second-half points in their 26-12 defeat of Castleford Tigers at the Probiz Coliseum. Chris Bailey scored two tries for the Broncos, while Michael Witt weighed in with five goals.

Bradford: Kearney, Kear, Whitehead, Lulia, Foster, Addy, Sammut, Scruton, L'Estrange, Manuafakoa, Bateman, Olbison, Donaldson. Subs (all used): Purtell, O'Brien, Murphy, Sidlow.

Hull KR: Eden, Brown, Salter, Wellham, D Hodgson, Burns, Dobson, Tuimavave, Carlile, Lovegrove, Mika, Paterson, Griffin. Subs (all used): J Hodgson, Walker, Horne, Paea.