Leeds hold on for Cummins to unseat Bulls

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The Independent Online

Bradford lost the leadership of Super League as Leeds gained revenge for a thrashing earlier this season and their Challenge Cup final defeat in a game that burst into life in the second half last night. Leeds, with two tries from Keith Senior, a fine all-round display from Iestyn Harris and another from the Sydney-bound Adrian Morley, always looked capable of winning at Odsal, but flirted with danger in an oscillating last 40 minutes.

Bradford lost the leadership of Super League as Leeds gained revenge for a thrashing earlier this season and their Challenge Cup final defeat in a game that burst into life in the second half last night. Leeds, with two tries from Keith Senior, a fine all-round display from Iestyn Harris and another from the Sydney-bound Adrian Morley, always looked capable of winning at Odsal, but flirted with danger in an oscillating last 40 minutes.

At 20-8, the Rhinos appeared to have it won, only for Bradford to level with two tries in three minutes. Then Morley's break and pass to Francis Cummins seemed once more to have made it safe, only for Robbie Paul to go over direct from a scrum to expose their nerves again in the dying minutes.

In a typically hard and uncompromising confrontation, both sides were guilty of an unusual number of errors. Leeds wiped out an early penalty by Henry Paul when Ryan Sheridan sent Graham Mackay through a gap and Morleysupported on the inside to claim the try.

The Rhinos, still prone to mistakes, had just retrieved the ball from Justin Brooker's knock-on when Andy Hay fumbled Harris's pass on the first tackle and Bradford made them pay. Scott Naylor looked suspiciously offside as he set off after Robbie Paul's low kick and won the race to touch down, but the try stood after scrutiny by the video referee. Paul Deacon, kicking in place of Henry Paul, off the field with an ankle injury, landed the conversion to put the Bulls back in front.

Leeds did not deserve to be in arrears and they put that right immediately before half time. Brooker and Stuart Spruce went for the same Harris kick and the ball ran loose for Senior to touch down, Harris again converting for a four-point lead.

Deacon's kick-off put Leeds under pressure at the start of the second period by finding touch, but Mackay's interception could have brought Leeds' third try had he not been caught by Jamie Peacock. Another surge by Mackay, kicking the ball ahead came to nothing, before Leeds extended their lead through Harris's boot and Leeds improved their position further with a simple try when Senior ran into a gap from the stand-off's short pass.

Bradford responded almost immediately. Stuart Fielden blasted at a hole and Robbie Paul capitalised. The Bulls drew level with another converted try after Deacon's bomb had caused chaos and, from the resulting scrum, they continued to turn the screw. Lowes sneaked over from dummy half, with Deacon adding the goal. Harris quickly restored Leeds' lead with another 40-yard penalty and Cummins' try was, in effect, the winner.

Bradford Bulls: Spruce; McAvoy, Naylor, Pryce, Viakona; H Paul, R Paul; Anderson, Lowes, Fielden, Peacock, Forshaw, B Mackay. Substitutes: Brooker, Deacon, Smith, Brian McDermott.

Leeds Rhinos: Cummins; G Mackay, Blackmore, Senior, Pratt; Harris, Sheridan; Fleary, Jackson, Barrie McDermott, Morley, Barnhill, Hay. Substitutes: Mathiou, Powell, Sterling, Carvell.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

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