The early sin-binning of Clint Greenshields proved an absolute disaster for last season's beaten Challenge Cup finalists as the 24 points they conceded in his absence effectively eliminated them from this year's competition.
It had been all Catalans in the first five minutes until Jerome Guisset's fumble and Michael Platt's break forced them to defend for the first time. Greenshields, the Australian full-back who this week agreed a new contract with the Dragons, got there to make the tackle, but was sent to the bin for holding on too long.
In the 10 minutes he was away, the Dragons, second in the Super League, fell apart alarmingly to leak four converted tries. Greenshields is a good player, but not quite that good.
"I don't think they touched the ball when he was off the field," said the Bulls' coach Steve McNamara. "We were very professional in what we did."
The Catalans coach Mick Potter called the sin-binning "a big call". "The sin-binning didn't let the points in," he said. "You've got to defend better. It's disappointing because I don't think we were motivated enough."
The first try came from the original penalty, the ball going swiftly to the wing for Semi Tadulala to score. Terry Newton's flat pass put Sam Burgess over and Glenn Morrison's offload to Paul Sykes set up Dave Halley, before Tadulala got his second from Shontayne Hape's inside ball and David Solomona's juggle.
Greenshields got one back for the Catalans on his return, straight from the scrum, but the Bulls showed they could score against 13 men as well when Paul Deacon matched his immaculate goal-kicking with a clever grubber kick for Chris Nero.
Deacon's kick-off to start the second half was allowed to bounce into touch, setting up the position from which Jamie Langley scored their sixth try. Wayne Godwin, who provided the scoring pass, then did the same for Hape.
The Catalans finished strongly with tries from Dimitri Pelo and Julien Touxagas, but it was already obvious that there would be no Gallic flavour at Wembley this year long before Tadulala completed his hat-trick.
Bradford: Platt, Halley, Sykes, Hape, Tadulala, Harris, Deacon, Lynch, Newton, Burgess, Solomona, Langley, Morrison. Substitutes: Nero, Finnigan, James, Godwin.
Catalan Dragons: Greenshields, Murphy, Mogg, Raguin, Pelo, Bosc, McGuire, Chan, Gorrell, Guisset, Mounis, Croker, Carlaw. Substitutes: Ferriol, Castre, Fakir, Touxagas.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).Reuse content