Bradford dispatch Fax to set up challenging tie against Wigan

Halifax 34 Bradford 46
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The Independent Online

It might have had the rhythm and flavour of an end-of-season sevens, rather than the fourth round of the Challenge Cup, but this at least gives Bradford a big day to look forward to in an otherwise forgettable season.

Their coach, Mick Potter, knows they will need to be much better against Wigan in the next round. "It's a tough draw, but at least we're at home," he said.

The Bulls might not have even been in the draw if Halifax had shown a little steadiness. But that is Fax for you; alternately thrilling in the way they use the ball and chilling in the way they abuse it.

"We had two or three chances and if we'd taken them we could have won the game," said the Halifax coach, Matt Calland, who from today will have Brian Noble working alongside him.

As the biggest match so far at the redeveloped Shay, this one had extra significance for a club with Halifax's Super League aspirations. However, here was nothing top-flight about the lack of composure with which they began the game, conceding two penalties and a drop-goal and only being spared an opening try when Michael Platt could not pick up a difficult pass from his bootlaces.

Halifax immediately gave the ball back and their former favourite Shad Royston got over from dummy-half. When Royston put Gareth Raynor in, the stage was set for the Bulls to get on with the job, but they were just as random with the ball as their opponents.

After Miles Greenwood had gone close, Halifax claimed their first try when Jim Gannon charged onto Bob Beswick's pass. Back came Bradford, with Royston's pass sending Platt right through Graham Holroyd's tackle.

Rob Worrincy's unique style of running in seming to go in every direction at once then confused Bradford enough for Sean Penkywicz to sneak over and the give-and-take continued with Elliot Whitehead going down the left touchline like a winger. It was Halifax's turn again and Frank Watene took it after good work by Ben Black and Penkywicz, who soon experienced the other side of the game by throwing the pass that was intercepted for a try by Patrick Ah Van.

Tom Burgess got his first try for Bradford, but still the toing-and-froing was not over, with Danny Jones taking Penkywicz's pass to limit the half-time margin to eight points.

Sam Barlow narrowed it further with a try from Black's little kick, but that was as close as Halifax were to get. A series of penalties – during which Worrincy had the ball stolen twice – put them under pressure, with Ian Sibbit finally forcing his way over.

Raynor's second effectively made the game safe, although Beswick got one for Halifax in the last minute. To paraphrase The Goon Show, it might have been rubbish, but it was all British rubbish – and richly entertaining rubbish at that.

Halifax: Greenwood; White, Patterson, Nash, Worrincy; Holroyd, Black; Gannon, Beswick, Cherryholme, Smith, Bannister, Barlow. Substitutes used: Jones, Aizue, Penkywicz, Watene.

Bradford: Royston; Ah Van, Platt, Walker, Raynor; Briggs, Herbert; Lynch, L'Estrange, Kopczak, Whitehead, Sibbit, Donaldson. Substitutes used: Hargreaves, O'Brien, Burgess, Bateman.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).