Bradford’s dream of making Super League’s top eight for the first time in five years is still alive – but by a very narrow margin.
A 75th minute drop-goal from Luke Gale and Matt Diskin’s even later try gave the Bulls the edge over Cup semi-finalists Hull, whose own play-off place is now precarious. A run of six defeats had badly dented the Bulls’ fragile play-off hopes, but Hull’s form had hardly been much more convincing, not in the League at any rate.
They were also hit before kick-off by Ben Galea’s announcement that he was retiring with immediate effect because of a pectoral muscle injury that needs an operation.
His absence did not seem to be a problem when Kirk Yeaman’s break and some weak defence let in Tom Briscoe for a try that put Hull ahead.
Both sides laboured in the heat and humidity, but Hull should have done better with a gift of possession when Jamie Langley was harshly penalised for that newly fashionable offence, the shoulder charge. Bradford brought on the unpredictable Jarrod Sammut after a four-match absence to perk up their attack. Within a couple of minutes he had brought them level, putting up a kick and getting there to score from the knock-down.
The Bulls were ahead when Adrian Purtell picked up a bouncing ball and sent Elliott Kear away three minutes later, as a game Hull had been dominating threatened to slip away.
After the break, both sides cancelled each other out until Danny Tickle struggled his way over after 51 minutes, adding the extra to tie the game.
Hull, despite their recent heavy workload, cranked up the pressure after that, but Bradford defended as though their season depended on it – which indeed it did.
Gale lifted the siege with a 40-20 kick, but the Bulls could not capitalise on a rare chance to attack. A knock-on and a penalty gave them another chance, again wasted when they failed to manufacture a drop-goal.
Hull squandered their own openings, until with six minutes left Gale slotted over the drop for Bradford, with Diskin’s last-minute dive making it safe.
Bradford Kearney; Kear, Purtell, Lulia, Foster; Addy, Gale; Scruton, Diskin, Evans, Bateman, Olbison, Langley. Substitutes used Sammut, L’Estrange, Manuokafoa, Walker.
Hull McDonnell; Lineham, Crooks, Yeaman, Briscoe; Heremaia, Miller; O’Meley, Houghton, Watts, Ellis, Tickle, Westerman. Substitutes used Lynch, Whiting, Pitts, Green.
Referee B Thaler (Wakefield).