Bradford 22 Leeds 42 match report: Leeds' early push leaves Bradford too far behind
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Saturday 04 May 2013
Leeds started like the champions they are, hitting Bradford with an early whirlwind from which they never recovered.
The Rhinos are in danger of losing their reputation for being slow into their stride in the regular season. The pace and strength of their outside backs left Bradford looking in vain for answers until it was too late on one of the more sobering nights since their rebirth and their heaviest defeat yet under the coaching of Francis Cummings.
“They were too good for us at the start,” said Cummings. “You can’t allow Leeds to get four tries in front.”
“We were very impressive in the first half, but Bradford made a contest of it after that,” said the Rhinos coach, Brian McDermott. “It doesn’t take a lot to be miles ahead of where we were last year. I’ve usually had my third coronary by now.”
This was an opportunity, had they been able to take it, for Bradford and their fans to celebrate the confirmation of their Super League licence for next season, after their near implosion last year. Leeds, with two games in hand on the other leading sides, have been making their way ominously into a rather better position than is their habit at this stage of the season.
It took just four minutes for the champions to find their feet as Ryan Hall fielded Luke Gale’s long kick and ran the ball across field to allow for Kallum Watkins to go 60 metres with his potent combination of power and balance. Another four minutes and Bradford were ripped apart again, initially by Brett Delaney’s break. Cultured handling, especially from Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield, and the Rhinos were over again through Mitch Achurch, with Sinfield landing his second goal.
Carl Ablett added a third before Ben Evans struck the first blow for the Bulls. That was as good as it got for them in the first-half, however as McGuire followed Paul McShane’s break for his team’s fourth.
Ryan Bailey got over just before the break, but Eliot Kear got one back for the home side down a vacant wing.With Leeds taking it easy, Brett Kearney got over again for the Bulls, raising the question of what might have been had they just started better.
Zak Hardaker ended all that conjecture when he bounced over, with Ablett strolling over for an easy second and Sinfield finishing with seven goals from seven attempts on his 450th appearance for the club.
Bradford: Kearney; Kear, Blythe, Lulia, Purtell; Sammut, Gale; Scruton, Diskin, Manuokafoa, Olbison, Whitehead, Walker. Substitutes used: L’Estrange, Addy, Evans, Sidlow.
Leeds: Hardaker; Watkins, Ablett, Moon, Hall; McGuire, Sinfield; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Achurch, Delaney, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes used: McShane, Kirke, Clarkson, Bailey.
Referee: R Silverwood (RFL)
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