Kearney's card a red rag to Bulls

Bradford 71 Hull 0
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The Independent Online

Hull suffered a record defeat and look resigned to their fate from the moment their second-rower Stephen Kearney was sent off after seven minutes. From that point the Bulls took an iron grip on the game. Their huge Tongan wing Lesley Vainikolo led the way with four tries.

They now go to St Helens on Friday and on this form will be desperately difficult to keep out of the Grand Final.

John Kear sprang a major surprise by leaving out Danny Brough, such a success for Hull at half-back this season, going instead for the extra size of Sione Faumuina.

There was no chance to judge whether that was a shrewd move or not before Bradford took the lead. From Jamie Peacock's rampaging run Hull were caught offside and Ian Henderson drove over from the penalty.

There was far worse to follow for Hull when the vastly experienced Kearney, who had already taken Stuart Fielden with a high tackle, flattened him with another. Steve Ganson, a referee who is not afraid to use the red card, consulted with his assistants and produced it.

The odds were further stacked against Hull on 14 minutes when Leon Pryce got a quick pass away and Peacock was too strong for the defence. The rout continued when Henderson took Pryce's pass and released Michael Withers, leaving Paul Deacon with a third easy conversion.

As if Bradford needed any extra help, Tom Saxton presented the ball to Ben Harris to invite another attack. Vainikolo had to backtrack to retrieve a pass from Withers, but still forced his way through three men to score.

Henderson was irrepressible at hooker. On the half-hour, he stole the ball from Saxton and bounced over the line for the fifth Bradford try.

Deacon added a fourth goal, followed by Iestyn Harris' drop goal, before putting Paul Johnson over for one of the easier tries of his career. Immediately before half-time, Vainikolo backed up Jamie Langley's break for a second.

Vainikolo completed his hat trick after the break and then set up a try for Shontayne Hape. Then it was Vainikolo again from Langley's pass, before his 80-metre diagonal run set up Iestyn Harris.

Hull had more possession in the second half but could never break the Bradford defence and their memorable season ended when Fielden scored the Bulls' 12th try.

Bradford: Withers; Pryce, B Harris, Hape, Vainikolo; I Harris, Deacon; Fielden, Henderson, Peacock, Johnson, Myers, Radford. Substitutes used: Paul, Vagana, Langley, Morley.

Hull: Saxton; Blacklock, Whiting, Yeaman, Raynor; Faumuina, Horn; Dowes, Swain, Carvell, McMenemy, Kearney, Cooke. Substitutes used: King, Tony, Thackray, Chester.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).