Brett Ferres's try a minute from time took a resolute Bradford to victory last night in a match which could mark the end of an era.
Leeds were inching towards a win which would have taken them to the top of Super League when the young forward, who is 20 on Monday, latched on to a last-ditch attack from Iestyn Harris and Paul Deacon to plunge over.
There was a full house at Headingley for a match which, even if it was overshadowed by the debate over the future of Brian Noble, never fails to ignite passions. Whatever lies ahead, Bradford defended with near faultless organisation for much of a first half during which Leeds used a strong wind to exert territorial dominance.
The Bulls did better than merely standing up to them, taking the lead after 14 minutes when Shane Millard gave conceded a penalty in the tackle. Iestyn Harris chose to tap the ball and run. Stanley Gene carried it on, taking a return pass from Michael Withers and using his deceptive strength to force his way over.
It was 32 minutes before the Rhinos drew level. Jamie Jones-Buchanan seemed to have been safely wrapped up in Chris McKenna's tackle, but he got the deftest of one-handed passes away to set up a try for Gareth Ellis.
Rob Burrow and Iestyn Harris swapped equally opportunistic tries at the start of the second half to keep the game on a knife edge, but the Bulls were back in front when Deacon kicked for the corner to give Marcus Bai a try against his former club.
Danny McGuire's kick and Danny Williams' knock-back then set up Mathers for yet another equaliser and a penalty conceded by Adam Watene for a high tackle on Chris Feather then looked like being the decider. Uncharacteristically, Leeds went for goal through Burrow, but the least this contest deserved was a try to settle it.
Leeds: Mathers; Donald, Walker, Senior, Williams; McGuire, Burrow; Peacock, Millard, Feather, Poching, Kirke, Ellis. Substitutes used: Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti, Bailey, Scruton.
Bradford: Withers; Bai, B Harris, Hape, Vainikolo; I Harris, Deacon; Fielden, Gene, Lynch, Ferres, McKenna, Langley. Substitutes used: St Hilaire, Watene, Pryce, Vagana.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).Reuse content