Opportunist second-half tries from Carl Ablett and Danny McGuire pulled Leeds out of their mini-slump as they continued their dominance over their local rivals. The Rhinos went back level with St Helens at the top of Super League, but were given a severe test by the Bulls, whose hold on sixth place now looks vulnerable to a late surge from Wakefield or Hull KR.
"That was the best I've seen Bradford play for a while," said the Leeds coach, Brian McClennan. "If we hadn't had the right attitude in the second half we wouldn't have got away with that one."
The game boiled over after just five minutes when Michael Platt and Rob Burrow were both sent to the sin-bin for their parts in a fracas that left Burrow with a cut head. Undeterred, the Bulls took the lead a minute later, Andy Lynch and Ben Jeffries both offloading skilfully for Paul Sykes to score.
Bradford continued to look composed until Jamie Langley lost the ball and Matt Diskin and Brent Webb moved it wide for Jordan Tansey to go over. Diskin was instrumental again three minutes later, this time making a clean break through the heart of the Bradford defence and releasing the supporting Luke Burgess for the converted try that put the Rhinos ahead for the first time.
There was real quality as well in their third try, Jamie Peacock striding onto a pass from Burrow, standing majestically in the tackle and getting away a pass for Nick Scruton to score.
The Bulls got a boost when Iestyn Harris kicked for the corner and James Evans emerged from a crowd to claim the ball and plunge over. Harris further increased his unpopularity with his former supporters in the home crowd by landing the conversion.
Another Harris kick caused further havoc early in the second half, bouncing down off a ruck of players for Wayne Godwin to touch down. Harris added the goal and the Bulls were ahead once more. They held that advantage up to the hour when McGuire put through a crafty kick and Ablett did well to reach it.
Burrow had one disallowed try for a forward pass from Keith Senior and McGuire was penalised for a double movement as he went for the line.
That left Bradford with some hope, but Chris Nero's pass went into touch in their best late chance. With seconds left, a pass from Kevin Sinfield sent McGuire in and Leeds' victory looked deceptively comfortable.
Leeds: Webb, Smith, Ablett, Senior, Donald, McGuire, Burrow, Peacock, Diskin, Leuluai, Kirk, Ellis, Sinfield. Substitutes: Scruton, Burgess, Tansey, Worrall.
Bradford: Platt, Halley, Sykes, Evans, Tadulala, Jeffries, Harries, Vagana, Newton, Lynch, Cook, Finnigan, Langley. Substitutes: Johnson, Nero, Godwin, Kopczak.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).Reuse content