Orford and Kearney gel to revitalise Bradford

Bradford 41 Castleford 22
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The Independent Online

The Bulls got their Super League season started at the third attempt last night, as their winter recruits combined to ease the pressure on their coach, Steve McNamara.

New half-backs Matt Orford and Brett Kearney linked up impressively to outgun a Castleford side that lacked direction in that area. Add a couple of spells of ineffectual defence and the Tigers were never really in the hunt.

McNamara described it as "great to get off the mark. It wasn't the finished article, even tonight, but I'm sure we're heading in the right direction." Terry Matterson, his Cas counterpart, admitted: "We never turned up tonight and I've got to find out why. We've had a couple of tough games, but defensively we were way off."

McNamara fielded the same 17 who were so dire against St Helens, but the Bulls began to work toward their redemption with two tries in the first six minutes. Cas looked the side with the problems as Nick Scruton scattered them for the first and Steve Menzies leapt to take Orford's kick to set up Rikki Sheriffe for the second.

After the Tigers attempted a comeback, Bradford had another spell of total dominance that brought them tries from Elliot Whitehead and Kearney – the latter, his first for the club, the result of wonderful build-up work from Menzies and Paul Sykes. But they kept inviting Cas back into the game, this time through Genn Hall's fumble from the kick-off. It was eventually punished by Craig Huby's delicate kick to the corner and Richard Owen's immaculate take.

Cas were more determined in defence at the start of the second half, although they were not helped by a broken lower leg for the unfortunate Owen. Orford sent Kearney over for a second, although Steve Snitch and Ryan Hudson got a couple back for the visitors before Sykes rounded off for the Bulls.

Bradford: Halley; Sheriffe, Sykes, Nero, Reardon; Kearney, Orford; Scruton, L'Estrange, Lynch, Langley, Whitehead, Menzies. Substitutes used: Godwin, Worrincy, Kopczak, Hall.

Castleford: McGoldrick; Owen, Shenton, Evans, Wainwright; Snitch, Chase; Jackson, Hudson, Higgins, Ferres, Jones, Westerman. Substitutes used: Clayton, Huby, Sargent, Netherton.

Referee: T Alibert (France).

*Terry Newton will not contest his drugs case, having admitted taking human growth hormone. The Wakefield and former Great Britain hooker faced a two-year ban but had the option of having a B sample analysed. In a statement through his solicitors, Newton said yesterday he would not do that.