Bradford 52 Huddersfield 18: Noble bows out in style as Bulls batter Huddersfield

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The Independent Online

Bradford said a fond farewell to Brian Noble with a display that carried enough echoes of their achievements under his coaching. The Bulls, with Stuart Fielden rampant and Terry Newton making a fine debut, were too good for Huddersfield, whose former hero, Robbie Paul, could not inspire them on his return to Odsal.

This was a match played out against the backdrop of two Bradford directors trying to persuade Brian Noble to stay rather than take up Wigan's offer. Banners at the ground showed that the Bulls' fans felt the same way, although the informed word was that it was too late to induce their coach to change his plans. His relationship with the club's chief executive, Gareth Davies, now appears to be so bad that he is unlikely to back-track.

Newton, after completing his long suspension, gave Bradford a perfect start, spotting a gap from close range. Five minutes later, Marcus Bai got the ball away just as he was being forced into touch and Paul Johnson went over. Newton then sent Paul Deacon over.

Huddersfield's response was spectacular, Brad Drew making the initial break and Chris Thorman going the final 40 metres at top pace. Seven minutes before half-time, the Giants got another when Thorman's little kick took a lucky bounce off Ian Henderson's foot to allow Chris Nero to score.

Bradford replied before half-time, a pass from Michael Withers sending Bai in. It took the champions just three minutes of the second half to increase their lead. Great Britain's Stuart Fielden was unstoppable from five metres as he added the Bulls' fifth try. The Bulls then threw caution to the wind and Shontayne Hape finished a breathtaking move initiated by co-centre Karl Pryce.

Deacon took his goal tally to five but the Giants hit back when Drew started and finished a move for their third try. Fielden took a pass from Henderson to go over as Bradford regained control. Their next try was exquisite, Pryce setting it up with a delicate angled kick, and Deacon handling twice before Shontayne Hape scored. "Nobby's nuts if he goes to Wigan," said one sign, and it is some time since the Warriors produced such fine rugby.

Drew scored for the Giants but Pryce soon went over for the Bulls' seventh try. Fittingly, it was Fielden's break that set up Lesley Vainikolo for the first of two late tries, with Deacon's kicks making him the Bulls' record points scorer.

Bradford: Withers; Bai, Pryce, Hape, Vainikolo; Gene, Deacon; Fielden, Newton, Lynch, Ferres, Johnson, Langley. Substitutes used: Vagana, Kopczak, St Hilaire, Henderson.

Huddersfield: Reilly; Aspinwall, Evans, De Vere, Gardner; Thorman, Paul; Crabtree, March, Grayshon, Nero, Jones, Wild. Substitutes used: Snitch, Drew, Jackson, Raleigh.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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