Saints still had their chances after that, but Mick Higham knocked on and Paul Wellens was stopped on the line. As both sides tired, Iestyn Harris threw a long pass to give Shontayne Hape his second try and the Bulls were on their way to Old Trafford to face Leeds next Saturday.
"I don't think anyone could have gone through extra time," said the Bradford coach, Brian Noble. "It must have been a great spectacle and St Helens played their part, but we know we can play a whole lot better."
The Saints line-up resolved itself with the bluff that Jason Hooper might play a week after dislocating his shoulder exposed as just that. The 17-year-old Scott Moore was the wild card, included at scrum-half despite not being named in Saints' 20-man squad.
If that planted any doubts in Bradford's minds they were not apparent in the opening minutes as they swept up field and claimed the game's first try. Brad Meyers was stopped by Wellens' tackle, but Saints did not regroup quickly enough to prevent an overlap, gleefully exploited by Hape. Deacon kicked the goal and put Bradford on the attack again with a 40-20, a position wasted when Harris lost the ball.
The Bulls took further toll when Stuart Fielden was allowed to stand in the tackle for what seemed like an age before throwing out a pass to send Paul Johnson through a gaping hole for another converted try.
Saints needed to make quick inroads into Bradford's 12 point lead and they did so after Deacon was penalised for holding on in the tackle. Keiron Cunningham got free at dummy half for the first time as John Wilkin came on the angled run to score. A couple of towering kicks from the confident young Moore caused problems for Bradford but their defence held up. That was until the 27th minute when Jamie Lyon kicked high for the corner, Ian Hardman outjumped Leon Pryce to knock the ball back and Wilkin pounced again for his second, Lyon adding the equalising goal.
Bradford should have been back in the lead, but Jamie Langley fumbled. Instead, Saints edged ahead for the first time through Lyon's penalty when the Bulls stopped the ball being played in front of their sticks. Three minutes into the second half, Bradford regained their lead with Langley more than making up for his earlier mistakes, taking Deacon's pass, throwing a dummy and beating Lyon on the outside.
Bradford looked to turn the screw, but a lost ball gave Saints a chance to strike back. Willie Talau was stopped on the try-line, but the alert Wilkin followed up for his hat-trick. The scores were level again when Saints conceded a penalty for Mick Fozzard's high tackle on Morley.
St Helens: Wellens; Hardman, Lyon, Calau, Gardener; Wilkin, Moore; Fozzard, Cunningham, P Anderson, Gilmour, Bennett, V Anderson. Substitutes used: Higham, Roby, Fa'asavalu, Graham.
Bradford: Withers; Pryce, B Harris, Hape, Vainikolo; I Harris, Deacon; Peacock, Henderson, Fielden, Johnson, Meyers, Radford. Substitutes used: Paul, Langley, Morley, Vagana.
Referee: Kirk Patrick (Warrington)
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