Leeds half-back Danny McGuire gave Bradford a lesson in finishing to lift his side above their Yorkshire rivals in Super League's play-off positions. McGuire's first hat-trick for two years sealed the win but Bradford could have won with points to spare if they had taken their chances.
"It was a game of missed opportunities for us," said the Bradford coach, Steve McNamara. "We created the chances, we just had to put the ball down."
In terms of quality, this was a long way from being the best that these two old rivals have produced, but it was rarely short of incident or controversy. Bradford suffered a pre-match setback with the news that their scrum-half and general Matt Orford had not recovered sufficiently from his shoulder injury. That and the absence of Brett Kearney meant the redeployment of the hooker Heath L'Estrange in a role to which he is a stranger.
There was no lack of direction evident in the first 14 minutes, dominated by a Bulls side that should have had more than the one try to show for their efforts. That one came when Paul Sykes kicked through, Lee Smith hesitated expecting the ball to run dead and Elliot Whitehead reached around him to touch down just before the line.
Typically, Leeds scored from their first real attack, although it took glaring forward passes from Kevin Sinfield and Scott Donald to send McGuire over.
Bradford deservedly regained the lead through another Sykes kick, collected by Michael Platt, who twisted out of a two-man tackle and dived between the posts. They should have been further a head, but Stuart Reardon unaccountably spilled Steve Menzies' pass with the try-line open a couple of strides ahead of him.
That looked a particularly damaging blunder when the Rhinos went straight to the other end to score. Smith was held up over the line and McGuire claimed his second from Sinfield's chip.
Sykes' interception from McGuire looked certain to put the Bulls ahead again, but the big forward Ian Kirke did remarkably well to chase him down, although at the cost of a hamstring injury. Another chance went begging when Chris Nero was denied by the video referee for a push on Donald.
Leeds went in with a half-time lead gained against the run of play when Ryan Hall won McGuire's kick and hurled it on to Keith Senior. A Sykes' penalty on the stroke of the break made it 14-12 to the visitors.
The start of the second half was a personal nightmare for the Bulls' winger Rikki Sheriffe. He spilled a routine kick to give Leeds the possession from which Brett Delaney scored and then fumbled the ball with the try-line as open as it had been for Reardon.
Leeds also had a couple of tries disallowed, before McGuire completed his hat-trick with a weaving 60-metre run from Greg Eastwood's pass.
Bradford: Halley; Sheriffe, Platt, Nero, Reardon; Sykes, L'Estrange; Scruton, Godwin, Lynch, Whitehead, Donaldson, Menzies. Substitutes used: Addy, Hall, Worrincy, Kopczak.
Leeds: Smith; Donald, Delaney, Senior, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Buderus, Bailey, Ablett, Kirke, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes used: Eastwood, Pitts, Diskin, Burgess.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield)
nWarrington moved back into second spot in the table with their third victory of the season against Huddersfield. Australian winger Chris Hicks led the way for the Wolves with two of Warrington's seven tries, while Chris Bridge finished with a haul of 12 points with a try and four goals in a 36-20 victory at Halliwell Jones Stadium.Reuse content