Bulls shine but Rea remains undazzled

Super League play-offs
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The Independent Online

The Broncos, who are now consigned to the history books as the club take on a new identity at the Twickenham Stoop, became the first team to bow out of the Grand Final Series when they lost 44-22 in the first elimination play-off at Odsal on Friday night.

The Bulls hit another purple patch to earn them a ninth successive win and a home tie next Saturday against the winners of last night's other play-off eliminator between Warrington and Hull, but Rea believes the Rhinos will go on to defend their title successfully .

"I think it's going to be open, I really do," he said. "Form is important but I think that Leeds will be the favourites. They have shown consistency over the period and they look in pretty good shape I reckon."

Bradford led 10-6 after an error-strewn first half but five tries in 18 minutes saw off the Broncos. The blockbusting winger Lesley Vainikolo scored two to take his tally for the season to 29 and the captain Jamie Peacock scored the 50th of his career.

The Bulls coach Brian Noble was forced to re-shuffle his side following the late withdrawal of his goalkicking scrum-half Paul Deacon but the long-serving club captain Robbie Paul stepped into the breach as the home side overcame a jittery start.

"It was a huge reminder of what finals football is all about, of how tough it's going to be," said Noble. "It was a great game for us in that respect.

"Our opposition next week and the week after will be thinking how they can exploit us but I know we can be a whole lot better than that and we put out a team that is stronger than that. We will probably get [Michael] Withers back next week and maybe [Stuart] Reardon as well as Deacon."

The former Brisbane Broncos back row forward Brad Meyers took the man-of-the-match award and drew the praise of his coach. "His form has been pretty good all year, he's been an unsung hero," said Noble. "He's a very, very good player. He came from a very good stable and he has shown his worth."

Meanwhile, the London side will undergo a changing of the guard tomorrow when they officially become Harlequins, and Rea confirmed that Steve Trindall, Dave Highton and Feleti Mateo all played their last matches for the club on Friday night. But Rea intends to keep the nucleus of the current squad and he is excited about the club's future as they embark on a new era.

"I am excited about the blokes we have got," he said. "We have got a good core of stability. At the start of this year we had 14 new blokes coming in but next year we don't have to go through that so we will be looking forward to going to Harlequins with a real positive outlook."