Bulls charge the buckling Broncos

London Broncos 0 Bradford Bulls 42
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The Independent Online

The Broncos are getting diminishing returns from their occasional forays into the east Midlands. Two years ago, they ran Bradford close at Leicester and drew a crowd of over 8,000; this time, 3,000 less watched a match for which there was only ever going to be one result.

The question here was always whether the Broncos, deprived of so many of their better players by a crippling injury toll, could raise their game sufficiently to give Bradford a contest, and create any sort of spectacle.

The omens were bad from the start, a bout of handling in which the Broncos could not kill the ball, ending with Henry Paul's long pass and Shane Rigon swatting off Tulsen Tollett for the game's first try.

London fumbled their way to the 10th minute before they were breached again, Henry Paul again supplying the pass, a beautifully timed short one, for Jamie Peacock to steam onto.

The Bulls then brought Paul Anderson and Stuart Fielden off the bench, and although Brett Warton defended bravely to prevent Fielden from announcing his arrival by touching down, a minute later, there was no stopping the formidable young prop as he took James Lowes' pass for the third Bradford try.

There were a few crumbs of encouragement for the Broncos when Henry Paul, who had kicked two previous conversions, missed one,the Bulls were held scoreless for the remaining 16 minutes of the half, and Dennis Moran almost got them on the scoreboard before the break when he was held up over the line.

But London could not hold back the Bulls for long after the interval, Daniel Gartner climbing above a tangle of players to take Henry Paul's high kick for another converted try. The Broncos, with Peter Lupton handling the ball cleverly, were at least asking the occasional question, and it took a fine tackle from MacDermott to stop Shane Millard. The difference in the finishing power of the two sides was illustrated at the other end, when no one could halt Michael Withers.

It could have been a lot worse, but for the fact the Bradford were some way below their polished best and that the Broncos stuck pretty diligently to a hopeless task.

They blundered, though, 12 minutes from time when Warton stilled a routine kick from Henry Paul to Tevita Vaikona a try. Two minutes later, Gartner slipped the ball to Paul Deacon and in the final minute Lee Gilmore's try and Paul's fifth goal completed the scoring.

London: Warton, Johnson, Tollett, Roy, Iwenofu, Lupton, Moran, Mestrov, Millard, Dooley, Hughes, Retchless, Dymock. Subs: Air, Sozi, Gillett, Morrison.

Bradford: Withers, Vaikona, Mackay, Rigon, Pryce, H Paul, R Paul, Vagana, Lowes, McDermott, Gartner, Peacock, Forshaw. Subs: Deacon, Anderson, Gilmour, Fielden.

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).