Crookes steals glory for Bulls

Hull KR 24 Bradford Bulls 36
Click to follow
The Independent Online

A hat-trick of tries from Jason Crookes maintained the Bulls' unlikely 100 per cent away record with an even more unlikely fightback on Humberside.

Trailing 24-8 early in the second half, Bradford hit the Robins with five unanswered tries, with Crookes creating one as well as scoring three as the Bulls moved into the play-off positions.

Bradford's away form has been the bright spot of their season, but this was a match which threatened to gallop away from them. Kris Welham wasted little time in showing his quality, latching on to Michael Dobson's deft kick for the first try inside the first three minutes.

When Brett Kearney took out Shannon McDonnell with a late tackleas the full-back chased his own kick and Mickey Paea scored from close range, Dobson's second conversion had the Bulls in danger of losing touch.

But the contest changed when Kearney threatened to go the length of the field with a stolen ball. Josh Hodgson hunted him down, but Bradford scored anyway when Keith Lulia's flick pass released Jason Crookes.

On the half hour it was, astonishingly in view of what had gone before, two tries apiece. Rovers could not cope with Ben Jeffries' kick and Danny Addy funnelled it to Karl Pryce, who celebrated his second Bulls debut, after five years away, with a simple try.

The scoreline was given a more realistic look before the break, when a twinkle-toed side-stepping run from Dobson set up Hodgson.

Rovers carried their good work into the second half, when Welham went past Jeffries to put a try on a plate for Craig Hall. Hall's pass to Graeme Horne would have produced another,had it not been ruled forward.

The Bulls' best chance of getting back into the game looked to have disappeared when Elliott Whitehead knocked-on in a promising position, but Crookes burrowed over for his second try, with Jarrod Sammut's first successful conversion cutting the margin to 10 points.

Kearney could have made it even closer, but could not turn another raid into points. Instead, Crookes showed another aspect to his play with a clever little kick from his wing for his captain, Matt Diskin, to pinch it from Rhys Lovegrove and touch down.

Whitehead made up for his earliererror with a defence splitting break that put Kearney over for the converted try that put Bradford ahead. Chev Walker kept them there with a crunching tackle on Dobson and then had a potential clinching try disallowed. That was rendered academic when Crookes squeezed in from another fine pass from Lulia, who completed the scoring in the last minute.

Hull KR: McDonnell; Hall, Welham, Webster, Latus; Lovegrove, Dobson; Paea, Withers, Taylor, Mika, Horne, Hodgson. Substitutes used Murrell, Clinton, Watts, Netherton.

Bradford: Kearney; Crookes, Lulia, Walker, Pryce; Sammut, Jeffries; Hargreaves, Diskin, Manuokafoa, Bateman, Whitehead, Langley. Substitutes used Addy, L'Estrange, Scruton, Burgess.

Referee S Ganson (St Helens).