Bradford blockade holds off Halifax

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The Independent Online

Halifax could not quite throw the obstacle in Bradford's path that they did when they drew with the Bulls a month ago, but the way their young side competed in a fierce derby yesterday at the New Shay gave them an abundance of hope for the future. With key men such as Andrew Dunemann and Jamie Bloem ruled out by injury, Halifax took the bold move of dropping two other senior players when Marvin Golden and Daryl Cardiss missed training on Thursday.

Halifax could not quite throw the obstacle in Bradford's path that they did when they drew with the Bulls a month ago, but the way their young side competed in a fierce derby yesterday at the New Shay gave them an abundance of hope for the future. With key men such as Andrew Dunemann and Jamie Bloem ruled out by injury, Halifax took the bold move of dropping two other senior players when Marvin Golden and Daryl Cardiss missed training on Thursday.

"It was a brave decision, but it was the only decision," said the club's assistant coach, Steve Linnane. "The young kids who came in performed very well. With the bounce of the ball and an ounce of luck, we would have won the game."

It would have been no injustice if a line-up containing five teenagers, with a mere handful of first-team games between them, had done exactly that, but Bradford had problems of their own to overcome and succeeded in doing so.

They began where they had left off at Wigan last Sunday, with a thread of indiscipline undermining their efforts and depleting their side. James Lowes made the first of his two trips to the sin bin after only two minutes, already having been penalised for dissent and continuing his argument with the world at the next play-the-ball. That allowed Danny Tickle to kick Halifax into the lead, but Jamie Peacock's ability to stand and pass out of the tackle brought Bradford their first try through Michael Withers.

Lowes' first act on returning to the fray was to send Paul Deacon away with a perfect pass, but Andy Hobson, sent off in the recent meeting between these two sides, scored a try to great acclaim to narrow the margin.

Lowes went over from dummy-half before half-time, but Halifax did not deserve to be 12 points behind and brought some realism to the scoreline when one of their youngsters, Danny Halliwell, went 90 yards on intercepting Deacon's pass.

Henry Paul's try and fourth goal, plus Deacon's strategic drop goal, seemed to have put Bradford in the clear, but then Lowes went to the sidelines again, this time for throwing the ball away. "I think he was experimenting with the new interchange rule," said Bradford's assistant coach, Brian Noble, but he had had a more serious effect for the Bulls when the impressive Tickle sent Damian Gibson over.

Tickle had seen one desperately close effort disallowed and another of Halifax's kids, Casey Mayberry, suffer the same fate as time ran out. Lowes could have gone to the bin for a record-breaking third time; instead, Jim Gannon and Stuart Fielden went after the subsequent fracas that summed up the intensity of this game.

Halifax Blue Sox: Gibson; Greenwood, Florimo, Halliwell, Marns; Moana, Firth; Hobson, Rowley, Goldspink, Gannon, Mercer, Tickle. Substitutes used: Holgate, Tallec, Thackray, Mayberry.

Bradford Bulls: Spruce; Vaikona, Naylor, Withers, Pryce; H Paul, Deacon; Fielden, Lowes, Anderson, Peacock, Forshaw, Boyle. Substitutes used: McDermott, Smith, McAvoy, Brooker.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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