Bradford 54 Catalans Dragons 6: Gene's genius helps Bulls win at canter

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The Independent Online

Bradford won their first match under the coaching of Steve McNamara, although they had little to beat against a woeful Catalans side.

Stanley Gene, drafted in as an emergency scrum-half, led the way with a hat-trick of tries, but it was all too easy for the champions on a low key night at Odsal. "It was nice to get my first win as a coach, but I'm more pleased that we've come through the Easter programme,'' said McNamara. "Stanley is 31, but he's still improving. He turns up and plays with a smile."

A series of handling errors and penalties invited Bradford to take an early lead, which they duly did through Marcus Bai, even if Michael Withers' final pass looked forward. Catalans could not hang on to the ball and when they came under pressure again, Iestyn Harris' high kick ran loose for Shontayne Hape to pick up and score.

Harris also created the confusion for the next try, setting up Bai to send in Ben Harris. Bradford were 16 points up without even beginning to play as well as they can and they were further ahead just after the half hour when Gene's strength took him over. Within five minutes, the Papua New Guinean was in again, taking a fine one-handed pass from Hape to blaze through.

The Bulls went further away from the dismal Dragons at the start of the second half when Ben Harris kicked through a loose ball and got a good bounce. The closest the Catalans came was when Bruno Verges beat Karl Pryce to Michael Dobson's kick but could not ground the ball. Brett Ferris and Andy Lynch added further Bulls tries, the latter from another clever pass by Hape, before the Catalans finally got some reward through Sean Rudder.

It would have been fitting if the last word had gone to Gene, going over for his third from close range, but there was still time for Lesley Vainikolo to bring up the 50 and complete a miserable return to Odsal for the Catalan coach Mick Potter.

Bradford: Withers, Bai, B Harris, Hape, Vainikolo, I Harris, Gene, Fielden, Newton, Lynch, Meyers, Johnson, Langley. Substitutes used: Vagana, Ferris, Pryce, Henderson.

Catalan: Frayssinous, Murphy, Wilson, Hughes, Verges, Rudder, Dobson, Beattie, Berthezene, Fellous, Hindmarsh, Fakir, Guisset. Substitutes used: Chan, Mounis, Rinaldi, Jampy.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).