Class divide exposed by Bradford

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The Independent Online

A defeat and a draw in their last two games amounted to a form slump for Bradford. But without looking remotely back to their best, they were still far too good last night for opponents who, while comfortably installed in the top five themselves, no longer seem capable of surprising the teams above them.

A defeat and a draw in their last two games amounted to a form slump for Bradford. But without looking remotely back to their best, they were still far too good last night for opponents who, while comfortably installed in the top five themselves, no longer seem capable of surprising the teams above them.

The Bulls looked sharper in the opening minutes than they have of late, going ahead through two tries, both involving Paul Deacon, the stand-in for the injured Robbie Paul. The young scrum-half was there to take James Lowes' pass and race away for the first and then launched a high kick which Castleford failed to handle, the ball bouncing into the arms of Brad Mackay.

With Henry Paul kicking the first two of his four goals Bradford were on their way, but their handling became ragged midway through the half, threatening to allow their visitors back into the game.

Stewart Fielden lost the ball to allow Dean Sampson to slip a pass to Darren Rogers. The winger continued his recent productive form by running 50 yards for a try that should have revived Cas.

Instead, the Tigers conceded two tries in the four minutes before half-time to demonstrate they are as far away as ever from disturbing the progress of the four teams directly above them in Super League.

Lowes' familiar little kick caught Jason Flowers off guard for Stewart Spruce to swoop for one, and Paul Anderson and Spruce then made the running for Tevita Vaikona to go over.

Castleford's main fault was the fundamental one of not being able to keep control of the ball. It was apparent again early in the second half, with Lee Harland knocking on to set the stage for Michael Withers to score from the scrum.

But the damage stopped there, more because Bradford eased off rather than Cas lifting their game. But, after Brian McDermott had been sent to the sin-bin, the Tigers did get a late try, Rogers moving the ball to Michael Eager with a basketball-style pass. "It was a workmanlike performance," said the Bradford coach, Matthew Elliott. "It's hard to play open rugby against Castleford."

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

Castleford Tigers: Flowers, Wells, Vowles, Eagar, Rogers, Orr, Davis, Sampson, Fritz, Sykes, Shaw, Tonks, Harland. Substitutes used: Lynch, Wright, P Smith, Eaton.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).

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