Higham strikes early to leave Bulls floundering

Bradford Bulls 0

St Helens 35

Saints followed London and Wigan in pillaging what used to be fortress Odsal as the Bulls suffered their third home defeat in a row last night.

It is more than 10 years since Bradford was subjected to such an indignity in the League, but a string of blunders on a wet and, for them, thoroughly miserable night condemned Bradford to their second heavy defeat by Saints this season.

Both sides had desperate trouble keeping their feet in the treacherous conditions from the start. The weather duly played a vital role in the first try, after Sean Long had set up the position with a 40-20 kick. With the Bulls pinned back in defence, Mick Higham ran at the line and both Daniel Gartner and Mike Forshaw lost their traction to let him through.

Higham, at scrum-half, got his and Saints' second four minutes later, blocking Paul Deacon's attempts at a grubber kick and picking up the rebound to run 70 yards and touch down. Long again added the conversion.

The visitors continued to handle the conditions by far the better and they scored again when Lesley Vainikolo twice fumbled Paul Sculthorpe's kick and Darren Albert followed up for a third converted try.

Long missed a penalty, but, in first-half injury time, Leon Pryce was the next Bradford player to make an expensive handling error near his own line, allowing Chris Joynt to drive over from the subsequent possession.

The second-half began just as disastrously for Bradford, with Robbie Paul the latest man to fumble a team kick. Once more Saints took immediate advantage with Sculthorpe sliding over and Long adding another goal.

Paul was later substituted, compounding a terrible evening for Bradford with the news that he had been taken to hospital with a suspected broken arm.

On 48 minutes, Saints scored a try without any appreciable assistance from Bradford, Long lofting his pass for Jason Hooper to go over in the corner and kicking his fifth goal.

Long's drop goal in the last minute qualified as satire, but few Bradford fans were around to see it, having long ago streamed through the exits to bring a mercifully early end to an evening they could hardly believe.

Bradford: Paul; Vaikona, Naylor, Hape, Vainikolo; Pryce, Deacon; Vagana, Lowes, Fielden, Gartner, Peacock, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Gilmour, Pratt, Radford, Anderson.

St Helens: Wellens; Albert, Gleeson, Hooper, Stewart; Long, Higham; Britt, Cunningham, Mason, Bennett, Smith, Sculthorpe. Substitutesused: Gardner, Ward, Joynt, Jonkers.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).